Connecticut Seal

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House of Representatives

File No. 626

General Assembly

 

January Session, 2017

(Reprint of File No. 66)

House Bill No. 5591

 

As Amended by House Amendment

Schedule "A"

Approved by the Legislative Commissioner

April 17, 2017

AN ACT CONCERNING PAY EQUITY IN THE WORKFORCE.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Section 31-75 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2017):

(a) No employer shall discriminate in the amount of compensation paid to any employee on the basis of sex. Any difference in pay based on sex shall be deemed a discrimination within the meaning of this section.

(b) If an employee can demonstrate that his or her employer discriminates on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees at the employer's business at a rate less than the rate at which the employer pays wages to employees of the opposite sex at such business for equal work on a job, the performance of which requires equal skill, effort and responsibility, and which are performed under [similar] comparable working conditions, such employer must demonstrate that such differential in pay is made pursuant to (1) a seniority system, provided time spent on leave due to a pregnancy-related condition or protected family and medical leave shall not reduce seniority; (2) a merit system; (3) a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or (4) a differential system based upon a bona fide factor other than sex, such as education, training or experience. Said bona fide factor defense shall apply only if the employer demonstrates that such factor (A) is not based upon or derived from a sex-based differential in compensation, and (B) is job-related and consistent with business necessity. An employee's prior wage and salary history shall not be considered a bona fide factor defense to such claim. Such defense shall not exist where the employee demonstrates that an alternative employment practice exists that would serve the same business purpose without producing such differential and that the employer has refused to adopt such alternative practice.

(c) No employer shall discharge, expel or otherwise discriminate against any person because such person has opposed any discriminatory compensation practice or because such person has filed a complaint or testified or assisted in any proceeding pursuant to section 31-76.

Sec. 2. Section 46a-62 of the general statutes is repealed. (Effective October 1, 2017)

This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:

Section 1

October 1, 2017

31-75

Sec. 2

October 1, 2017

Repealer section

The following Fiscal Impact Statement and Bill Analysis are prepared for the benefit of the members of the General Assembly, solely for purposes of information, summarization and explanation and do not represent the intent of the General Assembly or either chamber thereof for any purpose. In general, fiscal impacts are based upon a variety of informational sources, including the analyst's professional knowledge. Whenever applicable, agency data is consulted as part of the analysis, however final products do not necessarily reflect an assessment from any specific department.


OFA Fiscal Note

State Impact: None

Municipal Impact: None

Explanation

The bill alters the defenses available to employers in wage discrimination lawsuits and repeals a provision specifying that human rights law does not supersede labor law on gender wage discrimination matters. This does not result in any fiscal impact to the state or municipalities.

House “A” strikes the original bill and makes various changes to wage discrimination statutes and has no fiscal impact.

The Out Years

State Impact: None

Municipal Impact: None

OLR Bill Analysis

HB 5591 (as amended by House "A")*

AN ACT CONCERNING PAY EQUITY IN THE WORKFORCE.

SUMMARY

This bill limits the defenses available to employers in a gender wage discrimination lawsuit brought under the state's labor law (see BACKGROUND). It prohibits employers from using:

The current labor law generally prohibits gender wage discrimination by requiring employers to pay employees an equal wage for a job that (1) requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility and (2) is performed under similar working conditions. The bill specifies that the second provision applies to workers performing jobs under “comparable,” rather than “similar,” working conditions. (It is unclear whether this change has any legal effect.)

The state's human rights law also prohibits various discriminatory employment practices, such as gender wage discrimination (CGS 46a-60). The bill repeals a provision that specifies that the human rights law does not void or supersede the labor law's prohibition on gender wage discrimination. (It is unclear whether the repeal has any legal effect.)

*House Amendment “A” replaces the underlying bill, which specified that the labor law's prohibition on gender wage discrimination applied to workers performing jobs under “comparable,” rather than “similar,” working conditions.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2017

BACKGROUND

Gender Wage Discrimination

The state's labor law allows employees (or the labor commissioner) alleging gender wage discrimination to sue employers for lost wages, compensatory damages, attorney's fees and, in some instances, punitive damages (CGS 31-76). However, employers with pay differentials can defend themselves by showing that the differentials are based on (1) seniority; (2) merit; (3) a system that measures production quantity or quality; or (4) bona fide factors such as job-related education, training, or experience (CGS 31-75 (b)).

Employees alleging gender wage discrimination under the state's human rights law cannot sue their employers unless they first pursue their complaints through the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities' administrative process or receive a release from the commission (CGS 46a-94a and 46a-101).

Related Bill

HB 5210, reported favorably by the Labor and Public Employees Committee, prohibits employers from asking about a prospective employee's wage and salary history before negotiating his or her job offer and compensation. It also makes several changes to the defenses available to employers in a gender wage discrimination suit.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Labor and Public Employees Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

13

Nay

0

(03/02/2017)

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