Can Pay Transparency Shatter the Glass Ceiling? [Daily Journal]

Elena Hillman, Jake Rubinstein, and Janice Agresti authored an article on what pay transparency could mean for states. The latest state to leap further into pay transparency legislation is California, traditionally a bellwether for progressive employment legislation. Though the depth, breadth and impact of gender-based pay inequity in the United States is a topic for political debate, there is empirical data showing that, by and large, women are paid less than men for comparable work. According to the federal government, "[a]lthough the gender pay gap has narrowed since the signing of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, women earn 82 cents for every dollar a man earns, according to 2020 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And while the Equal Pay Act has been law since before many present-day workers were born, and gender-based pay discrimination is banned by Title VII and many state laws, the problem of unequal pay between men and women appears to be an entrenched one.

In a new bid to reduce or eliminate this pay gap, a number of states have passed broad-ranging pay equity and pay transparency laws. These laws are aimed at imposing greater consequences on employers who discriminate based on gender in pay and, in more groundbreaking fashion, they aim to force employers to disclose wages to current employees, job applicants, and - in some cases - the public at large. Recently-passed pay equity and transparency laws also aim to address racial and ethnic pay disparities, which remain stubbornly persistent. For example, according to an article published in 2020 by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), "[o]n average, black men earned 87 cents for every dollar a white man earned. Hispanic workers had the next largest gap, earning 91 cents for every dollar earned by white men." 

Colorado is at the forefront of legislation to improve pay equity and force pay transparency. The Rocky Mountain State's groundbreaking Equal Pay for Equal Work (EPEW) Act, which passed in 2021, adds more (and some might say redundant) prohibitions on gender-based pay differences. 

New York City has also passed a local law, effective Nov. 1, 2022, that requires employers in the city to post minimum and maximum salary information for positions, with an exception for jobs that cannot or will not be performed in New York City.

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Janice Sued Agresti


(212) 453-3978

Elena K. Hillman


(415) 262-8314

Jake Rubinstein


(720) 479-3872

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