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Federal Pay Transparency Bills Introduced
Tuesday, April 18, 2023

On Equal Pay Day, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) introduced three bills, including a national pay transparency bill, that she believes would help to close the pay gap between men and women.

She chose Equal Pay Day for the introduction of these bills because it marks the additional days women must work to earn what men earned the prior year.

One of the bills, the Salary Transparency Act, amending the Fair Labor Standards Act, would require all U.S. employers to provide the salary range for jobs in all advertisements. The salary range would need to include wages and other forms of compensation the employer anticipates offering the successful candidate for the job opportunity. The act includes civil penalties ranging from $5,000 for a first violation, increased by an additional $1,000 for each subsequent violation, not to exceed $10,000, plus liability to each job applicant for damages and reasonable attorneys’ fees. The bill also includes a private right of action.

This bill comes at a time when more states are adopting their own pay transparency laws, many of which have different requirements. Due to the difficulty of conforming to these various  laws, “some large corporations including Airbnb Inc. and Microsoft Corp. have begun to include pay information in all US job ads, which they’ve said also helps attract and retain employees.” Indeed, some employers, when doing PERM Labor Certification cases for sponsored visa employees, are choosing to comply with the most restrictive state law in their footprint to avoid possible state law violations, while balancing different geographic pay differentials, especially when many jobs can be worked remotely from anywhere within the United States. In that regard, federal legislation may come as a relief for some multi-state employers, particularly if it helps slow the wave of new and varied state requirements, which make compliance more difficult.

As compliance with a patchwork of state laws becomes more and more burdensome, employers will have to decide how risk-averse they are.

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