Workplace Equity

Background

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963 prohibit wage discrimination in the workplace. Jobs that have the same functions and similar working conditions and that require substantially the same skills must be compensated equally with allowable variations based on experience, qualifications, seniority, geographic location and performance.

 

Issue

As policymakers address pay equity, one challenge is understanding how much of the pay disparity between groups is attributable to discrimination, legitimate pay practices or other workplace dynamics, as well as what policy changes might help address it.

 

The Paycheck Fairness Act would prohibit employers' ability to base employee pay differentials on experience, qualifications, geographic location and performance and would shift the burden of proof, making it easier for plaintiffs to challenge employer pay practices.

 

Additionally, California, Delaware, Oregon and Massachusetts, as well as a growing number of cities and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, have passed some form of pay-equity legislation. Many include a prohibition on asking about a job candidate's salary history. Some include a concept that appears close to or approaching "comparable worth," which requires that jobs with comparable skills and responsibilities or that are of comparable worth to the employer be paid the same. Another emerging trend is the inclusion of a safe harbor for employers that conduct voluntary self-evaluations of pay and are actively working to address any discrepancies.


SHRM Position

  • SHRM believes that pay decisions should be made based on bona fide business factors and not based on non-job-related characteristics. Any improper pay disparities should be promptly addressed.

  • SHRM supports public-policy efforts that foster a single standard for establishing pay equity, rather than navigating different standards at the federal, state and local levels.

  • SHRM advocates for a federal standard of equal pay for equal work and opposes efforts to equate different jobs using "similarly situated" or "comparable worth" standards.

  • SHRM encourages employers to educate applicants or employees on their compensation practices by sharing compensation for the position, total compensation philosophy, pay structure and the factors taken into consideration in pay decisions. 


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