Today's Business: She makes what? Mandating salary disclosure and equal pay

Jessica A. Slippen is an attorney with Stratford-based Mitchell and Sheahan. She handles employment litigation matters before state and federal courts and administrative agencies and can be reached at 203-873-0240 or JSlippen@mitchellandsheahan.com.

Jessica A. Slippen is an attorney with Stratford-based Mitchell and Sheahan. She handles employment litigation matters before state and federal courts and administrative agencies and can be reached at 203-873-0240 or JSlippen@mitchellandsheahan.com.

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Ever wonder how much your co-worker in the next cubicle earns? Wonder no more. On June 7, Gov. Ned Lamont signed “An Act Concerning the Disclosure of Salary Ranges,” making Connecticut the latest state in a growing trend to require employers to be more transparent in disclosing employee wages.

Effective Oct. 1, this law will require employers to disclose to job applicants and current employees salary ranges for positions. It also will broaden Connecticut’s gender-based wage discrimination laws to ensure that members of the opposite sex receive the same pay for “comparable,” rather than “equal,” work. As more of us head back into the office, employees and employers alike need to be prepared for what inevitably will lead to more salary discussions around the water cooler and the break room.

All employers in the state will be required to provide a job applicant with the wage range for the position that he or she is seeking —at the applicant’s request, or when the applicant is made a job offer, whichever occurs first. It also requires that employers disclose to current employees the wage range for that employee’s position upon hiring, if a change in position occurs, or when the employee first requests the wage range.

Wage range is defined as the pay parameters an employer anticipates relying on when setting wages, and may include references to pay scales, previous wage ranges for the positions, and the actual wage range for employees currently holding comparable positions, or the employer’s budgeted amount for the position. An employer who fails to provide this information is subject to a lawsuit by the aggrieved employer for compensatory and punitive damages, as well as the employee’s attorneys’ fees and costs.

The new law also will expand Connecticut’s equal pay requirement. Under the earlier law, an employee asserting a gender-based equal pay claim must prove that the employer pays a member of the opposite sex less for work that requires equal skill, effort and responsibility under similar working conditions. Beginning in October, employees will only need to show that the employer pays a member of the opposite sex a lower wage than the other for comparable work at a job viewed as a composite of skill, effort and responsibility under similar working conditions. Geographic location, credentials, skills, education, and training may be legitimate factors other than sex upon which employers may base their compensation decisions.

So, what does this all mean?

First, it is important to remember that an employer is not required to disclose the dollar amount of wages paid to a specific employee. Employees can, in most instances, however, voluntarily discuss their wage information with other employees. Now, they can also request wage range information directly from their employer. Employers should begin the process of maintaining the appropriate wage range documentation so it can be presented to an applicant or employee upon request. Employers should also continue making sure appropriate checks and balances are in place to ensure that all employees, regardless of gender, are paid the same for comparable work.

Jessica A. Slippen is an attorney with Stratford-based Mitchell and Sheahan. She handles employment litigation matters before state and federal courts and administrative agencies and can be reached at 203-873-0240 or JSlippen@mitchellandsheahan.com.