An Update from the State House
What’s Going On This Week
Senate Labor Committee Passes Comparable Pay & House Labor Schedules Hearing
The Senate Labor Committee recommended passage S.2475 SubA unanimously last week (with
a few amendments to the original bill). The House Labor Committee has scheduled the House
version - H.7427 – for a hearing Thursday, April 12 th at approximately 4:30 pm in room 205 at
the state house.
These bills states, “No employer shall pay any of its employees at a wage rate less than the rate
paid to employees of another race or color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or
expression, disability, age (40+), or country of ancestral origin for comparable work.”
Comparable work means “work requires comparable skill, effort and responsibility, and is
performed under similar working conditions.”
An employer can pay employees differently if the differential is based on: (1) seniority, (2) a
merit system, (3) a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production or is a
bona fide factor such as travel, or a business necessity. However – and it’s a big however – if the
employee can show that an alternative to the business practice exists that would serve the same
business purpose, and the business refuses to adopt this alternative, then the wage differential is
unacceptable and the employer is in violation of the law.
Employers cannot ask for wage history at the time of an interview or at the time of offering a job.
An employee can offer his/her wage history voluntarily at the time a final salary is being
Employers cannot lower anyone’s wages in order to meet the equal pay requirement. Wages can
only be increased.
Any employee that successfully challenges his/her wages is entitled to unpaid back wages,
benefits, other compensatory damages and liquidated damages equal to three times the unpaid
wages and benefits owed. An employer who asks for salary history can be on the hook for up to
$10,000 in special damages and punitive damages if the asking was deemed to have been done
with malice or reckless indifference.
One amendment to the Senate bill allows the Department of Labor and Training or the court to
lower any penalties assessed on an employer if the employer conducted a “fair pay analysis of
the employer’s pay practices” within 3 years of the date an employee files a complaint. The
analysis must be (1) reasonable in detail and in scope based on the size of the employer, and (2)
the analysis had to cover the protected class of the employee that filed the complaint; (3) the
employer must have eliminated ay wage differential; and (4) the employer must collect data
every year on the wages paid to employees broken down by gender, age, ethnicity, etc.
House Labor to Hear Minimum Wage Hike
On Thursday, April 12 th the House Labor Committee will also be taking testimony on H.7636
(Reps. Ranglin-Vassell, Regunberg, Ajello, Hull and Bennett) which increases the minimum
wage to $11 per hour as of January 1, 2019, and raises the wage every January 1 st thereafter by
$1 per hour until the wage reaches $15 per hour on January 1, 2023. The wage would then
increase every year based on the CPI index. H.7636 also increases the tipped wage to $5 per
hour starting January 1, 2019 and increase $1.25 every year thereafter until it matches the
minimum wage. This change would likely lead to the adoption of the European model for
restaurants where tipping is not permitted. The Chamber opposes the passage of H.7636.
Senator Labor Looks at Hoisting Engineer Apprenticeship Requirement
S.2620 is on the list of bills to be discussed at the Senate Labor Committee Wednesday, April
11 th at approximately 4:30 in room 212. This bill by Senators Ciccone, P Fogarty, Lombardi, and
Nesselbush would require hoisting engineers to complete a 6,000 hour on-the- job training
program as well as 432 hours of classroom training prior to obtaining a hoisting engineer’s
license. This new apprenticeship program governed by the Department of Labor, would not be
required for those individuals with “restricted licenses,” or for individuals operating aerial lifts
and hoisting equipment used in the assembly of elevators.
The following bills were filed last week:
Senate Bill No. 2790
BY Morgan, Paolino
ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO STATE AFFAIRS AND GOVERNMENT - BREACH
OF PERSONAL INFORMATION NOTIFICATION ACT (Establishes procedures to notify
individuals of any breaches of their unencrypted personal information and penalties for any
Senate Bill No. 2806
ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -
EMPLOYMENT SECURITY - BENEFITS (Increases the maximum weekly unemployment
benefit rate to the higher of fifty-seven and one-half percent (57.5%) of the average weekly
wages paid to workers in the prior calendar year or six hundred sixteen dollars ($616) per week.)