The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom has held in Asda Stores Ltd v. Brierley and others that Asda supermarket retail employees can appoint Asda depot workers as their comparators in an equal pay claim despite their working in different ‘establishments’ of the business.
In 2021, the Illinois General Assembly passed Senate Bill (SB) 1480, which amends the Illinois Human Rights Act, the Illinois Equal Pay Act, and the Illinois Business Corporation Act. On March 23, 2021, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the bill into law.
On February 3, 2021, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) updated its frequently asked questions (FAQs) to make clear that employers can seek an extension for reporting year 2020—known as a request for an “enforcement deferral period”—as to its newly enacted pay data reporting requirement that reports are otherwise due on March 31, 2021.
Now that the inauguration has passed and the Biden administration has begun its work, it is a good time for retailers to take stock of the labor and employment issues that are likely to assume prominence in 2021, and to consider preparing to meet the challenges each of these issues pose. In no particular order, below are the top 10 issues that are likely to keep retail employers up at night in 2021.
On September 30, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a pay data reporting requirement for employers that assigns responsibility for collecting such data to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). To assist employers with this filing requirement, the DFEH recently established a web page and published answers to a a series of frequently asked questions (FAQs) that address several topics related to the upcoming filings, which are due no later than March 31, 2021.
On January 5, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit issued a decision in Kellogg v. Ball State University that expanded the scope of potential evidence plaintiffs may rely on to support their Equal Pay Act (EPA) claims. The decision serves as a warning to Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin employers to consider reviewing employee compensation to ensure compliance with pay equity requirements.
As the 4 April 2021, gender pay gap reporting deadline approaches, the UK government has published an updated set of guidance for employers on the gender pay gap reporting requirements. Although the reporting requirements have not changed, the guidance has been updated to include information for employers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular relating to furlough leave and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a press release on January 12, 2021, notifying EEO-1 filers that the EEO-1 filing platform will not open until April 2021. This is of particular interest for employers because the EEOC delayed the 2019 EEO-1 filings, which would normally have been due in March 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic—meaning that both the 2019 and 2020 EEO-1 filings will be due this year.
On September 30, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed California Senate Bill 973 into law as Government Code Title 2, Division 3, Part 2.8, Chapter 10, § 12999. The bill authored by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (Santa Barbara) is titled “Employers: annual report: pay data,” and it states that while “progress [has been] made in California in recent years to strengthen California’s equal pay laws,” there is still a significant gender pay gap and for women of color that pay gap is greater. To address these pay issues, the California Government Code’s new section 12999 requires pay data reports from covered employers and delegates additional powers to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing relating to the new pay data reporting requirement. Section 12999 requires covered employers to file pay data reports no later than March 31, 2021, and on or before every March 31 thereafter.
Despite all that is going on in the world, the California legislature has been busy this year. Below is a summary of the major employment law bills that are working their way through the state Assembly and Senate.
On September 1, 2020, the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations will begin enforcing a previously-enjoined provision of the city’s Wage Equity Ordinance, which addresses the disparity in the pay of women and minorities.
In May 2020, the United Kingdom welcomed the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act 1970, which was enacted to ensure the equal treatment of men and women in terms of pay and the conditions of employment. However, in recent months, research has revealed that women have suffered a larger fall in earnings in the United Kingdom and are losing their jobs in greater numbers than men during the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 has certainly not slowed down legislators in Annapolis. Far from sitting idle, the Maryland General Assembly recently passed a broad array of workplace legislation without the governor’s signature. In addition to a significant expansion of Maryland’s Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, three new employment laws are set to take effect on October 1, 2020.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently announced a pair of major changes to the EEO-1 filing process. The most recent was on May 7, 2020, when the EEOC announced that due to the COVID-19 pandemic it was filing a notice in the Federal Register delaying collection of the 2019 EEO-1 report this year and requesting approval to collect both 2019 and 2020 EEO-1 data beginning in the first quarter of 2021.
On February 27, 2020, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in Rizo v. Yovino, (again) found that salary history is not a “factor other than sex” that can justify a pay disparity in defense of a claim under the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA). The Ninth Circuit made the same finding in 2018, but the Supreme Court of the United States remanded the case because the judge who authored the original opinion died before it was published.
On February 6, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit vacated U.S. District Judge Mitchell S. Goldberg’s prior order partially blocking the City of Philadelphia’s pay equity ordinance from going into effect.
As we previously reported this past summer, the New York State Senate and Assembly passed Senate Bill 6549, which amended Section 194 of the New York Labor Law to prohibit wage differentials based on any protected class. As we also reported, the State Senate and Assembly also passed an omnibus bill that overhauled New York’s antidiscrimination laws. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed these bills into law on July 10 and August 12, 2019, respectively. As a result, several new laws are slated to take effect in October 2019.
Alabama became the 49th state to adopt equal pay legislation when Governor Kay Ivey signed the Clarke-Figures Equal Pay Act (CFEPA) on June 11, 2019. The CFEPA, effective September 1, 2019, prohibits an employer from paying an employee less than another employee of a different race or sex for equal work.
Currently, certain employers are required under federal law to file annual Employer Information Reports (EEO-1) with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. These EEO-1s must contain data regarding demographics of the employer’s workforce. Accordingly, employers covered by federal EEO-1 reporting requirements were required to file EEO-1 Component 1 data from 2018 by May 31, 2019, and must still submit Component 2 EEO-1 (pay and hours worked) data for their workforces by September 30, 2019. Not to be outdone, the State of California is poised to impose a similar requirement on employers.
As we previously reported, the Illinois legislature passed House Bill 834 and Governor J. B. Pritzker signed the bill into law. It will become effective September 29, 2019. The new law prohibits employers from requesting or requiring prospective employees to provide their salary histories as a condition of being considered for employment.
As we previously reported, the New York State Senate and Assembly recently passed Senate Bill 5248A and Senate Bill 6549. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed both bills, and both became law on July 10, 2019.
Continuing the trend of substantial and expansive legislative changes in employment law, the New York State Senate and Assembly have passed Senate Bill 5248A and Senate Bill 6549. The first bill, S5248A, will prohibit wage differentials based on any protected class and will take effect 90 days after being signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The second, S6549, will prohibit private sector employers from asking for wage or salary history as a requirement for a job interview, job application, job offer, or promotion and will take effect 180 days after being signed by Governor Cuomo. The governor is expected to sign the bills into law.
On June 26, 2019, the Toledo City Council approved Ordinance 173-19, titled “Pay Equity Act to Prohibit the Inquiry and Use of Salary History in Hiring Practices in the City of Toledo.” The law prohibits employers from inquiring about or using an applicant’s salary history to screen job applicants, in deciding whether to offer employment, or in determining salary, benefits, or other compensation during the hiring process. The Toledo pay equity act also bans employers from refusing to hire or otherwise retaliating against a job applicant for failing to disclose his or her salary history.
After ending 2018 with a slew of new employment laws, Illinois continues to enact legislation impacting employers. Following the example set by California, Washington, and other states recently, the Illinois legislature passed four new bills targeting equity, transparency, and discrimination last week, and Governor J. B. Pritzker is expected to sign them into law.
On June 11, 2019, Governor Kay Ivey signed Alabama House Bill 225, making Alabama the 49th state to adopt equal pay legislation. The act prohibits an employer from paying an employee a lower wage rate than an employee of another race or sex for equal work in the same establishment, where job performance requires “equal skill, effort, education, experience, and responsibility” and occurs “under similar working conditions.”
Federal law already prohibits employers from paying an employee less than employees of another sex for equal work, unless the employer bases the wage difference on statutorily defined factors. Alabama and Mississippi were the only two states without corresponding state-specific laws until Representative Adline Clarke, D-Mobile, introduced Alabama House Bill 225 on March 19, 2019.
On May 22, 2019, Colorado governor Jared Polis signed sweeping equal pay legislation into law after nearly 40 years of failed attempts by the Colorado government to pass a pay equity law. The recently signed Colorado Equal Pay for Equal Work Act is one of many transformative legislative changes the state government has put in place since the November 2018 election, which resulted in Democrats holding trifecta control in the Colorado state government for the first time in years.
On May 9, 2019, Washington State governor Jay Inslee signed House Bill 1696, “an act relating to wage and salary information.” The new law is similar to legislation being promulgated throughout the country, including by Washington’s neighbor to the south, Oregon. This law will become effective on July 28, 2019.