The New York State Department of Labor has adopted regulations clarifying employers’ rights and obligations when implementing policies that limit the discussion of wages in the workplace. Under New York Labor Law section 194(4), an employer may not prohibit employees from discussing wages, but may establish “reasonable workplace and workday limitations on the time, place and manner for inquiries about, discussion of, or the disclosure of wages.” The DOL’s new regulations provide guidance on the permissible scope of policies that limit wage discussions as well as the notice employers must provide to employees about such policies.
By Audrey Nguyen with Michael Arnold
California’s Fair Pay Act was already one of the broadest equal pay laws in the country. Governor Jerry Brown recently expanded it further by signing two laws that will go into effect on January 1, 2017. We summarize the expansion below.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently signed a series of bills entitled the “Women’s Equality Agenda” that significantly amend the State’s equal pay, sex discrimination, harassment and other laws to provide additional protections for women in and outside the workplace. Among other changes, the amendments broaden the definition of “equal work” for equal pay, add “familial” status as a protected class, require employers to accommodate pregnant workers, authorize treble damages for willful violations, provide sex discrimination plaintiffs with a new right to attorneys’ fees and apply the law’s prohibition on sexual harassment to all employers regardless of size. The amendments, which we briefly summarize below, take effect on January 19, 2016.
The California Fair Pay Act, which goes into effect on January 1, 2016, prohibits employers from paying employees less than the rate paid to members of the opposite sex who perform “substantially similar” work. Although current laws prohibit wage discrimination within the same establishment for the same work, the new law expands the geographic scope to include all of an employer’s locations (even outside of California) and expands the scope to include “substantially similar” work, not just “equal work.” An example, as offered by State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, is a female housekeeper who cleans hotel rooms at one location may challenge the higher wages paid to male janitors who clean the lobby and banquet halls at another location. We summarize the law below.