For Immediate Release - August 01, 2016

Governor Baker Signs Bipartisan Pay Equity Legislation

New law prevents wage discrimination on the basis of gender

BOSTON – Governor Charlie Baker today signed a bipartisan pay equity bill, passed unanimously by both legislative branches, to ensure equal pay for comparable work for all Massachusetts workers and equal opportunities to earn competitive salaries in the workplace. The Governor was joined by Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo, Treasurer Deb Goldberg, State Auditor Suzanne Bump, State Senator Patricia Jehlen, Representative Ellen Story, Representative Patricia Haddad and members of the Legislature at a signing ceremony in the State House to enact S.2119, An Act to Establish Pay Equity, which will go into effect on July 1, 2018 for Commonwealth employers and employees.

“I am pleased to sign bipartisan legislation to create a more level playing field in the Commonwealth and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to earn a competitive salary for comparable work,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “I thank the Legislature for unanimously passing this bill and working closely with the business community to support women and families across the state.”

“This legislation is an important step toward advancing more equal, inclusive and thriving workplaces throughout the Commonwealth for women and families,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “We thank the Legislature for their collaboration with the Commonwealth’s employers and their commitment to creating more opportunities for Massachusetts skilled workforce.”

The new law will prevent pay discrimination for comparable work based on gender. The bill allows employees to freely discuss their salaries with coworkers, prohibits employers from requiring applicants to provide their salary history before receiving a formal job offer and authorizes the Attorney General to issue regulations interpreting and applying the expanded law. 

“The House is proud to have brought together stakeholders to ensure that we created a workable solution that will be effectively implemented,” said Speaker of the House Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “I want to offer my sincerest thanks to those who have raised their voices and tenaciously pursued this issue for decades. Your work will shape a better and more just future for women in the Commonwealth.”

“The Senate put pay equity on the Legislative agenda in January and with the Governor’s signature today we move Massachusetts forward by protecting women from discrimination in the workplace and closing the gender pay gap,” said Senate President Stanley Rosenberg (D-Amherst).  “I thank my colleagues in both the Senate and House for taking on this important issue for the people of the Commonwealth.”

Under the new law, employers are permitted to take certain attributes of an employee or applicant into account when determining variation in pay, like: their work experience, education, job training, or measurements of production, sales, or revenue. 

“This new law is an important step toward ensuring economic security for Massachusetts women and families,” said Attorney General Maura Healey. “It makes vital updates that reflect our modern economy and balance the needs of workers and the business community. We thank the House and Senate for moving this bill forward, especially Speaker DeLeo and Senate President Rosenberg, Ways and Means Chairs Dempsey and Spilka, Speaker Pro Tempore Haddad, Labor and Workforce Chairs Scibak and Wolf, and the bill’s lead sponsors, Representatives Story and Livingstone and Senator Jehlen. We also thank Governor Baker for signing it into law and the many business and advocacy groups who lent their support. Pay equity is not only a women’s issue, it’s a family issue, and with this new law on the books, we are closer to closing the pay gap in our state.”

“The gender wage gap has a real impact on the lives of woman. It puts families at risk, and makes self-sufficiency in retirement more difficult,” said State Auditor Suzanne Bump. “I commend the Legislature and the Governor for recognizing the importance of the bill and passing it into law. This measure will ensure Massachusetts continues to be a leader in promoting equality and opportunity.”

"The signing of the Equal Pay bill is a momentous occasion for Massachusetts,” said Treasurer Deb Goldberg. “When women are paid what they are worth, families are stronger, our state is stronger, and our economy thrives."

“For too many generations women have done equally hard, equally skilled, and equally responsible work as men in the same workplace,” said State Senator Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville). “This is an important milestone on the journey toward equity for women and families all across this Commonwealth.”

“I have been trying to get this bill passed since Senator Jehlen first filed it in 1998,” said Representative Ellen Story (D-Amherst). “But, there are some who have been waiting even longer. Marilyn Jancey and lunch ladies from Everett have been waiting since 1989. I am thrilled to help deliver this small slice of justice for those who have been waiting so long.”

“This milestone legislation allows Massachusetts to, once again, lead the nation,” said House Speaker Pro Tempore Representative Patricia A. Haddad (D-Somerset).  “None of this would have taken place had not legislators on both sides of the aisle, the business community, the Attorney General’s office and ordinary, everyday working citizens of the Commonwealth worked together to achieve this goal: equal pay for equal work.”

The statute of limitations laid out currently under the Equal Pay statute will be expanded from one to three years and employees will no longer be required to pursue a general claim of intentional discrimination at the Massachusetts Commission against Discrimination before filing a separate equal pay claim in court.

 

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