Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces

On March 27, 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, an act designed to amend and strengthen the existing federal Equal Pay Act (“EPA”), 29 U.S.C. § 206(d). The Paycheck Fairness Act, which passed the House by a vote of 242-187 on a largely party-line basis, is sponsored by Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and would make sweeping changes to existing law.
Continue Reading Equal Pay Act Amendment Passes House of Representatives

Enacted in 1963, the Equal Pay Act prohibits differential payments between male and female employees doing equal work except when made pursuant to a seniority system, a merit system, a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, or a fourth, catch-all exception for “a differential based on any other factor other than sex.” 29 U.S.C. § 206(d)(1). These exceptions are affirmative defenses which the employer must plead and prove.

In Rizo v. Yovino, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 8882, an en banc panel of the Ninth Circuit considered whether an employee’s prior salary was a permissible “factor other than sex” under the Equal Pay Act. Prior Ninth Circuit precedent held that “the Equal Pay Act does not impose a strict prohibition against the use of prior salary.” Kouba v. Allstate Insurance Co., 691 F.2d 873, 878 (9th Cir. 1982). Under Kouba, employers were prohibited from using a factor which “causes a wage differential between male and female employees absent an acceptable business reason.” Id., at 876.

On April 9, 2018, a bare majority of the 11 judge en banc panel of the Ninth Circuit overruled Kouba and held that “a legitimate ‘factor other than sex’ must be job related and that prior salary cannot justify paying one gender less if equal work is performed.” Rizo v. Yovino, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 8882, at *15. Writing for the majority, the late Stephen Reinhardt announced a bright-line rule that “prior salary alone or in combination with other factors cannot justify a wage differential.” Id., at *5-6. Five judges concurred in the result, but disagreed with the majority’s holding that prior salary can never suffice to constitute a “factor other than sex” sufficient to justify a wage differential.
Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Holds Prior Salary Cannot Justify Wage Differences

[UPDATE] On March 27, 2017, President Donald Trump signed into law a Congressional Review Act (“CRA”) resolution repealing the so-called “blacklisting” rule, which would have imposed strict labor reporting and other requirements upon government contractors. This was followed by an Executive Order (“EO”) signed by President Trump the same day, effectively nullifying President Barack Obama’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces EO that first called for the blacklisting rule. For additional details regarding the repeal, please see the April 26, 2017 blog article.

On August 25, 2016, the United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) and Federal Acquisition Regulatory (“FAR”) Council published “Guidance for Executive Order 13673, ‘Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces’” (“final rule”).  Also referred to as the “blacklisting” rule, it imposes strict disclosure guidelines and requires that both prospective and existing contractors – as well as subcontractors – disclose violations of federal labor laws that resulted in administrative merits determinations, civil judgments, or arbitral awards or decisions.  The final rule also requires that contractors and subcontractors disclose specific information to workers each pay period regarding their wages and prohibits contractors from requiring that their workers sign arbitration agreements that encompass Title VII violations and claims of sexual assault or harassment.


Continue Reading Agencies Publish Strict New Reporting Guidelines for Government Contractors