Maryland has passed legislation that better aligns the state’s Equal Pay law to modern workforce demographics, assuring that along with equal wages, all workers are given equal employment opportunities. The amended Equal Pay law also allows workers to discuss their wages, provides additional factors to justify wage differentials, and adds law enforcement tools. These revisions are reflected on the new Equal Pay for Equal Work notice that employers must post in the workplace to inform employees of their rights and protections under the law.
Gender Identity Protection
The Equal Pay law has been expanded to preclude gender identity as a basis for pay discrimination. Under the law, “gender identity” means “gender-related identity, appearance, expression, or behavior of a person, regardless of the person’s assigned sex at birth… .” Gender identity is also the basis for protection under the state’s anti-discrimination in employment law.
The Equal Pay law prohibits employers from paying employees of one sex or gender identity less than employees of another sex or gender identity. It also prohibits an employer from providing “less favorable employment opportunities” between different sexes or gender identities. Less favorable employment opportunities means:
- assigning or directing the employee into a less favorable career track or position;
- failing to provide information about promotions or advancement offered by the employer; or
- limiting or depriving an employee of employment opportunities that would otherwise be available to the employee but for the employee’s sex or gender identity.
Legitimate Wage Differentials
The amended law retains the five existing exceptions to the equal pay requirement, when the wage differential is based on:
- a seniority system;
- a merit based system;
- jobs that require different abilities or skills;
- jobs that require the regular performance of different duties or services;
- work that is performed on different shifts or at different times of day;
Two new exceptions are recognized under the amended law, justifying wage differentials based on:
- A system that measures performance based on a quality or quantity or production; or
- A bona fide factor other than sex or gender identity, including education, training, or experience.
The Equal Pay amendment also creates rights increasing pay transparency. Under the law’s new provisions, an employer may not prohibit or retaliate against employees for asking about, disclosing or discussing their own or another employee’s wages or asking the employer to provide a reason for their wages. However, an employer may adopt a written policy that limits the time, place and manner of such wage discussions. Also, employees in possession of wage information because of the nature of their position are not authorized to disclose the wages of another employee without that employee’s permission.
The law gives the Labor Commissioner additional enforcement authority including mediating procedures. In actions by an employee against an employer, an employee may recover damages and injunctive relief.
The Equal Pay law requires employers to post the Equal Pay for Equal Work notice in the workplace. CPC’s Maryland All-On-One Poster has been updated to include the revised Equal Pay for Equal Work notice along with the updated state Minimum Wage notice.