The end of Connecticut’s legislative session always generates an influx of newly passed bills that affect employers. One such bill that was signed into law by Governor Lamont is Public Act 21-30, “An Act Concerning the Disclosure of Salary Range for a Vacant Position.” This law will go into effect October 1, 2021 and requires the disclosure of wage ranges by employers. It also extends the prohibition on sex-based wage discrimination.

Under the new law, employers must disclose the wage range for a position to a job applicant, either (a) at the applicant’s request, or (b) before or at the time the applicant is offered the position. In the case of a current employee, employers must disclose an existing employee’s wage range (a) at the hiring of the employee, (b) a change in the employee’s position with the employer, or (c) at the employee’s first request for a wage range. The law defines “wage range” as “the range of wages an employer anticipates relying on when setting wages for a position,” and may refer to any applicable pay scale, previously determined range of wages for the position, actual range of wages for those employees currently holding comparable positions or the employer’s budgeted amount for the position.

Public Act 21-30 also lowers the standard for determining gender wage discrimination from “equal work” to “comparable work.” That is, Connecticut law previously prohibited employers from paying employees at a rate less than what they pay employees of the opposite sex for “equal” work on a job, the performance of which requires “equal” skill, effort, and responsibility.  Public Act 21-30 removes the “equal” work standard, and replaces it with a “comparable” work standard, thereby making it easier to prove discrimination. Under the new standard, employers cannot discriminate on wage rates paid to employees of opposite sex for “comparable work on a job, when viewed as composite of skill, effort and responsibility and performed under similar working conditions.”

Employers can only justify differences in pay if it is based on (a) a seniority system, (b) a merit system, (c) a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, or (d) a differential system based upon a bona fide factor other than sex, “including, but not limited to, education, training, credential, skill, geographic location or experience.” An employer must prove the bona fide factor is not based upon gender-based difference in pay but is job-related and consistent with business necessity. If an employee can demonstrate an existing alternative employment practice that serves the same business purpose without such a wage difference, the employer’s defense would not hold. The law also prohibits employers from discharging, expelling or discriminating against any person who has opposed any discriminatory compensation practice or because such person filed a complaint, or testified or assisted in filing a Department of Labor complaint or lawsuit.

Employers should make note of these new requirements and standards to ensure compliance by the October 1, 2021 effective date.

This information is for educational purposes only to provide general information and a general understanding of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not establish any attorney-client relationship.

Written by Nick Zaino and  Hollianne Lao*

*Hollianne Lao is a 2021 University of Connecticut Summer Intern at Carmody Torrance Sandak & Hennessey LLP.