State Rep. Ken Gordon Supports Landmark Bill To End Gender Wage Gap

(NOTE: State Rep. Ken Gordon represents the 21st Middlesex District, which includes Burlington, Bedford and Precinct 3 in Wilmington.)

BOSTON, MA — Representative Ken Gordon (D-Bedford) joined his colleagues in the House of Representatives in passing legislation to ensure that men and women receive equitable compensation for comparable work. The bill prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender in the payment of wages for comparable work unless the variation is based upon a mitigating factor including seniority (provided that paternal, family, and medical leave don’t reduce seniority); a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, sales, or revenue; education, training or experience.

Notably, the bill would prevents employers from requesting salary history in hiring, a measure designed to end the self-perpetuating cycle of wage disparity. Massachusetts would be the first state in the nation to adopt such a provision. However, prospective employees would not be barred from voluntarily disclosing their past salaries.

“Pay equity gets at the heart of who we are as Americans,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “I want to offer my sincerest thanks to the legislators 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.”

“I’m proud of this historic step the House took today in eliminating gender discrimination of the payment of wages for comparable work,” said Speaker Pro Tempore Patricia A. Haddad (D-Somerset). “I thank Speaker DeLeo, Attorney General  Maura Healey, House  Ways & Means Chair  Brian Dempsey, and my colleagues in the House for their determination in working with advocates and business leaders alike to craft a piece of legislation that will make a lasting difference.”

 “I was proud to join in with my colleagues to ensure that women in Massachusetts will no longer make $.81 for every dollar earned by a man for the same work with the same experience and the same training,” said Representative Gordon.

 “With the passage of this bill, the House of Representatives has made a historic commitment to attacking the wage gap. The new protections and policy will make the Massachusetts equal pay statute the strongest in the nation” said John W. Scibak, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development (D-South Hadley). “This bill will forest a culture of corporate accountability and is a crucial step towards ensuring equal pay for equal work.”

In drafting this bill, the House of Representatives focused on building consensus to ensure that the legislation would be workable, effective and sustainable. Key to those efforts were defining “comparable work” and maintaining flexibility for performance-based compensation. The bill incentivizes companies to correct compensation disparities internally before going to court by creating three-year affirmative defense from liability. Within that time period employers must complete a self-evaluation of its pay practices and demonstrate reasonable progress in eliminating pay disparities.

It also:

  • Prohibits employers from reducing salaries in order to comply with law.
  • Prohibits an employer from preventing employees from talking about their salaries.

The legislation will take effect of July 1, 2018.

(NOTE: The above press release is from State Rep. Ken Gordon’s Office.)

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