State of the States: California Gender Pay Ratio Bill Advances

August 04, 2017

As reported in the new Littler State of the States report, a bill that would mandate employers with over 250 employees to collect and publish online "gender pay differentials" information is making headway through the California Legislature, having been approved by the State Assembly and one State Senate committee.  The provision would require employers to identify the difference between the mean and median salary of male exempt employees and female exempt employees by each job classification or title, with similar information being required for male and female board members.  Meanwhile, California's cities continue to advance pay equity measures of their own.  San Francisco passed a salary history ordinance that will prohibit inquiries into a job candidate's salary history and ban considering salary history in making a hiring decision or considering what to pay the candidate.  It also prohibits employers from releasing salary history of any employee, past or current, without their written authorization while protecting them from retaliation.  The measure will go into effect on July 1, 2018.  The San Diego City Council passed an equal pay measure that would require city contractors and consultants to certify that they pay their employees equally regardless of ethnicity or sex and to notify employees of that policy in writing.  Other notable state and local developments include:  

Paid Leave (New Jersey, Washington, Hawaii)  New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) vetoed a measure that would have amended the New Jersey Family Leave Act to significantly increase temporary wage replacements and double the length of time such benefits are available to 12 weeks.  It remains to be seen if the bill's proponents can gin up enough legislative support to override the Governor's veto.  In Washington, meanwhile, a bill was introduced that would allow employees to opt out of the state's brand-new paid leave law, potentially freeing both employees and employers from making leave insurance payments for those declining to participate.  Hawaii amended its paid family and medical leave statute to allow time off to provide care for a sibling.

Joint Employer (New Hampshire)  New Hampshire became the ninth state this year to pass legislation specifying that a franchisor is not the employer of its franchisees or its franchisees' employees.  Specifically, under the legislation, a franchisor may not be deemed an employer or co-employer unless it agrees in writing to assume such a role.  The popularity of such measures is testimony to the widespread confusion as to the nature of the joint employer relationship.  Recently, HR Policy testified before Congress on the importance of bringing clarity to the issue in its support of a legislative effort to do so.  Subsequently, the bipartisan Save Local Business Act (H.R. 3441) has been introduced and is headed to committee.

Preemption (Missouri, Georgia, New York)  Missouri and Georgia each enacted measures prohibiting localities from instituting certain wage-related laws as a similar preemption effort stalled in New York.

Discrimination (California)  A California bill that would require employers with 50 or more employees to include training about harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation as a component of the mandatory training for supervisors passed both the State Senate and an Assembly Committee.