Pay Equity Advice and Defense
Current Landscape of Equal Pay
Recent high-profile legislation, litigation, media attention, and shareholder focus on pay equity is leading employers to reexamine their compensation practices. With dramatic changes to the pay equity environment in the wake of the #MeToo movement, employers need to ensure that their compensation practices have kept pace. State law changes—led by California, New York, and Oregon—not only make it easier for employees to find comparators to support claims of unequal pay, but also remove employer defenses and increase potential penalties and damages. At the same time, federal and state courts have overturned precedents under the federal Equal Pay Act, facilitating employee lawsuits while further eroding employers’ ability to defend against such claims. Plaintiffs’ firms have been quick to take advantage of this environment, launching nationwide pay equity class actions against employers; asserting claims under the new California, New York, Oregon, and other new state statutes; leveraging the media; and coordinating claims with activist shareholder groups.
Let NJL Help You Assess and Reduce Risk
Employers need to audit their pay practices to comply with the new environment and to avoid or prepare for potential claims. Nilan Johnson Lewis attorneys assist employers in compliance and risk reduction in several ways:
- We conduct national, regional, and statewide pay equity audits to allow employers to identify areas of risk in their workforce
- We help employers review their pay practices to adjust to new state and federal requirements, including assessing job families to determine which jobs can be considered “substantially similar” under new California, New York, Oregon, and other states’ standards
- We work with employers on a proactive basis to identify relevant factors the employer should consider when determining compensation—and factors that are no longer permissible under federal and state law
- We offer suggestions for permissible remediation, either enterprise-wide or in specific organizational or functional areas
- We assist employers with the timing and messaging of remediation to minimize workplace disruption and alarm
- We identify pay practices that may be creating structural pay disparities and recommend changes to reduce or eliminate risks without compromising the employer’s ability to compete for talent
Most importantly, our team of attorneys and retained experts who perform this work help employers identify issues—under the protection of the attorney-client privilege—before those employers face litigation and potentially damaging public attention that can follow.