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A new pay equity law is aimed at giving workers more protections, even in the prehire phase.

Massachusetts’ pay equity act was signed by Governor Charlie Baker earlier this month on August 1 after the legislation unanimously passed both the House and Senate.

Statute 2016, c. 177 An Act to Establish Pay Equity includes several components to strengthen fairness in hiring and compensation.  “Comparable work,” or jobs regardless of titles that require similar skills and responsibilities, requires equality in compensation. Noncompliant employers can have action taken against them to collect unpaid wages and damages. It takes effect July 1, 2018.

The Act is one of the strongest state laws in the nation aiming at equivalent pay for employees with comparable jobs, seniority, and workplace conditions.  It is also intended to prevent discrimination based on gender, stating: “No employer shall discriminate in any way on the basis of gender in the payment of wages, including benefits or other compensation, or pay any person a salary or wage rate less than the rates paid to employees of a different gender for comparable work.”

The Act also:

  • Forbids employers asking a job candidate about their salary history before extending an offer of employment, including the compensation, to the applicant.
  • Prohibits employers from preventing workers disclosing or discussing salary information about their earnings or those of their colleagues
  • Bars employers from discharging or retaliating against employees for opposing any violations of the Act by the employer.

The Act provides a Private Right of Action: an employee may file in court on their own behalf or with an attorney’s assistance without having to file an initial charge of discrimination with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.  The statute of limitations is three years from the alleged violation.


For further legal information there is a section on hiring employees at the Massachusetts Law About… A-Z web page.


Image credit: Laura Pasquini / Flickr / CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0

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