BOSTON, MA — State Representative Jay Livingstone, representing Back Bay, Beacon Hill, and the West End in Boston and Cambridgeport and MIT area in Cambridge, filed a bill with Rep. Ellen Story (D, Amherst) that aims to combat the gender wage gap and other pay disparities throughout the Commonwealth. The bill, titled An Act to Establish Pay Equity, has the backing of a coalition of progressive women’s organizations called the Equal Pay Coalition, which includes the Women’s Bar Association, MassNOW, and the Commission on the Status of Women.

The bill clarifies what constitutes “comparable work” and also includes new language regarding pay transparency that will help all employees. These pieces would allow employees to discuss their salaries with other employees without risk of penalty as well as require employers to advertise the minimum that the job would offer to help alleviate the disadvantage that comes from the current wage gap and pay disparity. In Massachusetts, women earn 80% of what their male counterparts do. The bill would narrow the wage gap by clarifying what constitutes “comparable work” and establishing new rules regarding pay transparency. The new rules would allow employees to discuss their salaries with other employees without risk of penalty, require employers to advertise the minimum that an available job would offer, and prohibit employers from requiring applicants to provide salary history while not increasing litigation.

“As an employment lawyer, I represented women who had been discriminated in the workplace and I worked hard to correct those wrongs for individual clients.  I am pleased now to work on a bill that will provide more opportunities for all women in Massachusetts to earn their fair share in the workplace as well as bring more transparency regarding salaries to the hiring process that will benefit all employees” said Livingstone. Ninety-eight of the one hundred fifty eight members of the Massachusetts Legislature signed on as co-sponsors.

“The wage gap is real and has serious negative impacts on women and families,” said Senator Jehlen, who filed the same legislation on the Senate side. “We have talked about the issue for long enough – it’s time to do something about it. This bill provides a set of targeted interventions to narrow the wage gap without overburdening businesses.” Representative Livingstone and Senator Pat Jehlen, who has filed the same legislation on the Senate side, are coordinating their legislative efforts with the Equal Pay Coalition, which is building broad grassroots support across a wide variety of advocacy groups. “The Equal Pay Bill is an innovative approach that builds upon diversity and pay equity efforts already in place at many companies and organizations to implement best practices and strengthen our Equal Pay Act to end the gender wage gap,” said Katie Prisco-Buxbaum, Communications Director of the Equal Pay Coalition.

“The coalition is rapidly growing and has received overwhelming support from local non-profits and community organizations. We are proud to be working with Representative Livingstone and our other champions in the State House to ensure economic justice for women and families across Massachusetts.” Inquiries regarding coalition activity can be answered by Katie Prisco-Buxbaum, Communications Director of the Equal Pay Coalition (katiepriscobuxba@gmail.com).

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