MA Equal Pay Law Takes Effect 7/1/2018

MA Equal Pay Law Takes Effect 7/1/2018

Extracted From Original Article  Overview of the Massachusetts Equal Pay Law

An updated Massachusetts Equal Pay Act (MEPA) will go into effect on July 1, 2018.

The new law will provide greater clarity as to what constitutes unlawful wage discrimination and will add protections to ensure greater fairness and equity in the workplace.

The statute, Chapter 177 of the Acts of 2016, An Act to Establish Pay Equity, amends the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act, M.G.L. c 149 § 105A (“MEPA”).

The law states that “No employer shall discriminate in any way on the basis of gender in the payment of wages, or pay any person in its employ a salary or wage rate less than the rates paid to its employees of a different gender for comparable work.”

The law defines “comparable work” as work that requires substantially similar skill, effort, and responsibility, and is performed under similar working conditions.


MEPA permits differences in pay for comparable work only when based upon:

  • a system that rewards seniority with the employer (provided, however, that time spent on leave due to a pregnancy-related condition and protected parental, family and medical leave, shall not reduce seniority);
  • a merit system;
  • a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, sales, or revenue;
  • the geographic location in which a job is performed;
  • education, training or experience to the extent such factors are reasonably related to the particular job in question; or
  • travel, if the travel is a regular and necessary condition of the particular job.

MEPA also ensures that employees’ salary histories are not a defense to liability.

Other Key Provisions

MEPA ads several additional protections for employees and job applicants:

  • Employers may not prohibit employees from disclosing or discussing their wages.
  • Employers may not seek the salary or wage history of any prospective employee before making an offer of employment that includes compensation, and may not require that a prospective employee’s wage or salary history meet certain criteria.
  • Employers may not retaliate against any employee who exercises his or her rights under the law.

Employees whose rights under MEPA have been violated have three years from the date of an alleged violation to bring an action in court. A violation occurs when a discriminatory compensation decision is made or other practice is adopted, and each time an employee is subject to or affected, including each time wages are paid.

For more information:

▶  MEPA Overview and Frequently Asked Questions