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Governor signs bipartisan pay equity legislation

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Governor Charlie Baker 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,” Baker said. “I thank the legislature for unanimously passing this bill and working closely with the business community to support women and families across the state.”

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 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,” Rosenberg said. “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, such as 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.”

“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,” Bump said. “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 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.