Senator Lesser Votes for Equal Pay for Women

BOSTON- Senator Lesser voted on Saturday, July 22nd on the final version of legislation aimed at closing the wage gap between men and women. The legislation, which Senator Lesser co-sponsored, is now on the Governor’s desk for signature into law. It passed the Senate unanimously. For every dollar men earn in Massachusetts, women earn 84 cents for comparable work. A report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research projects that the gender wage gap in Massachusetts will not close on its own until 2058.

“It’s not fair for women to be paid less than men for doing the same work,” said Senator Lesser. “This legislation gives women the tools they need to demand equality in the workplace, and will go a long way towards closing the wage gap.”

The bill, S.2107, sponsored by Senator Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville) and Senator Karen Spilka (D-Ashland), seeks to bridge the wage gap by ensuring equal pay for comparable work, establishing pay transparency and requiring fairness in hiring practices.

The bill prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender in the payment of wages for comparable work unless the variation is based upon a mitigating factor including seniority, and further prohibits a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, sales, or revenue, education, training or experience.

The bill incentivizes companies to correct compensation disparities internally before going to court by creating a three-year affirmative defense from liability. Within that time period, employers must complete a self-evaluation of their pay practices and demonstrate reasonable progress in eliminating pay disparities. It also prohibits employers from reducing salaries in order to comply with law, and prohibits an employer from preventing employees from talking about their salaries.

Senator Lesser voted to pass an earlier version of the pay equity bill in January, 2016. He also co-sponsored the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, and legislation to create a commission on women and girls for Hampden County. He wrote an op-ed on this work and gender equality more broadly for the Springfield Republican in May of last year.

The bill now goes to the Governor’s desk for his signature.