Emerging Trend in Compensation Equity: Pay Transparency Laws

By Lindsay A. DiSalvo

The federal government and individual states have prohibited inequity in compensation based on protected categories such as sex, race, ethnicity, and many others for decades under general anti-discrimination laws. For instance, at the federal level, it is impermissible to pay someone less because of their sex under the Equal Pay Act, which requires that men and women in the same workplace be paid equally for equal work. More broadly, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discriminating against someone in the terms and conditions of employment, including pay, based on sex, race, color, national origin, and religion. And many states have similar laws with more extensive applicability and additional protected categories. However, it is only more recently that the discussion regarding pay inequity has moved to the foreground propelled by national social movements such as the MeToo and BlackLivesMatter movements, among others. With this more recent discourse around pay equity, there have also been some accompanying changes in the law, including a number of cities and states adopting pay transparency laws that give broader, more public access to pay information.