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In the BLOG

Pay transparency law may be coming to DC

Pay transparency is a hot topic across the United States, and Washington, DC, might be one of the next places to adopt a pay transparency law.  These laws require covered employers to include information about pay in job advertisements and postings.  Generally, this means every job posting must include a salary range (minimum to maximum).

Which states have pay transparency laws?

Several states have already enacted pay transparency laws.  These states are California, Washington, Colorado, Hawaii and New York, with additional states in the process of creating such legislation.  However, there is some variation among the actual terms and requirements of each state’s laws.  For example, some states may require disclosure of only a salary range; others may require additional details, such as availability of bonuses and other types of compensation.

Although they may not require pay information in job postings, some states, including Maryland, require employers to provide salary ranges upon request.  Maryland and other states also prohibit employers from retaliating against applicants for either requesting salary information or refusing to disclose their wage history to an employer or potential employer.

Does pay transparency help employees?

Wage disparities based on gender and race are prevalent across the United States.  For example, a National Women’s Law Center study revealed that, of full-time workers in D.C., Black women earn 52 cents for every dollar their white male counterparts earn.  The goal of pay transparency laws is to increase pay equity and close these wage gaps.

For job applicants, these laws should provide better leverage in salary negotiations, as well as insight about compensation for similar roles with different employers.

For current employees, pay transparency helps show whether they are earning fair salaries and compensation compared to similar employees who work for the same or other employers.

Meanwhile, employers may benefit from increased employee retention and satisfaction if pay transparency shows employees that their current employer offers fair compensation.

Can you sue an employer under pay transparency laws?

In Washington state, covered employers must include a salary range and general description of benefits and other forms of compensation in every job announcement.  Many employees have filed lawsuits for wage transparency violations. In several class action lawsuits, employees allege that employers failed to include adequate compensation information in their job postings.  The litigation indicates that employers may increase risk of liability by posting an overly broad salary range, which makes it difficult for applicants to accurately judge the possible salary for the role.

Pay transparency laws allow employees to discuss wages and access information about their coworkers’ wages.  As a result, some employees have filed lawsuits against companies after discovering their compensation fell below the job posting’s advertised minimum salary.

In Washington, DC, proposed legislation would require employers to include a salary range in job postings and prohibit them from using an employee’s pay history to set compensation.

How can an employment attorney help me?

If you have questions about wage disparity, unpaid wages, or other wage issues, it may be helpful to consult a lawyer.  You may also have legal recourse if a Maryland employer refused to provide a salary range or retaliated against you for requesting salary information.  An experienced employment attorney can give you advice about negotiating your salary or determining if an employer violated your rights.  Alan Lescht and Associates can help.  Our attorneys represent clients in cases involving wage theft, unpaid overtime, pay-related discrimination, breach of contract, and other issues relating to employee compensation.  We represent federal government workers around the world, as well as private-sector and state and local government employees in Washington, DC, Maryland, and northern Virginia.

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