The federal government and individual states have prohibited inequity in compensation based on protected categories such as sex, race, ethnicity, and many others for decades under general anti-discrimination laws. For instance, at the federal level, it is impermissible to pay someone less because of their sex under the Equal Pay Act, which requires that men and women in the same workplace be paid equally for equal work. More broadly, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discriminating against someone in the terms and conditions of employment, including pay, based on sex, race, color, national origin, and religion. And many states have similar laws with more extensive applicability and additional protected categories. However, it is only more recently that the discussion regarding pay inequity has moved to the foreground propelled by national social movements such as the MeToo and BlackLivesMatter movements, among others. With this more recent discourse around pay equity, there have also been some accompanying changes in the law, including a number of cities and states adopting pay transparency laws that give broader, more public access to pay information.
What are Pay Transparency Laws
Pay transparency laws generally require that employers disclose specific pay information to applicants, such as the wage, salary range, or pay scale for the position. The timing of such disclosures, the context in which such disclosures are required to be made, and the content of such disclosures varies depending on the state or local law. The goal of these laws is to more effectively address existing wage gaps and prevent against future wage gaps by providing greater openness and standardization of the salary range for a specific position no matter the applicant. Indeed, per recent earnings data at the end of 2022, White women earned about 83% percent as much as their White male counterparts while Black men earned about 79.6% of the median income of White men, among several other gaps identified based on sex, race, ethnicity, and age, per data collected by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Traditionally, specific employee salaries have been a subject treated as private information, not broadly shared or discussed. However, pay transparency laws require that this information be proactively provided, often through the actual job posting or at least some time during the application process upon an offer being made or by request of the applicant. Pay transparency laws also frequently go hand in hand with limitations on the information an employer can obtain about an applicant’s own pay history to avoid the potential of perpetuating a pay gap by using that information to determine current compensation.
Most Recent States that Have Adopted Pay Transparency LawsContinue reading