Rhode Island Amends Pay back Equity Law

Rhode Island Governor Daniel McKee signed shell out equity laws (H 5261A, S 0270A) that will go into outcome on January 1, 2023. The new legislation amends Rhode Island’s current spend fairness regulation and consists of the subsequent important provisions.

Spend Discrimination

According to the new amendments, employers may well not shell out any of their staff “at a wage level fewer than the price paid to staff members of one more race, or coloration, or faith, sexual intercourse, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, incapacity, age, or region of ancestral origin for equivalent get the job done.” This prohibition applies except if the wage differential falls inside particular permissible exceptions outlined in the law.

The amended law’s definition of “comparable work” is broader than “equal operate,” the phrase utilized in the prior version of the law. The new legislation defines “comparable work” as “work that demands considerably identical ability, exertion, and accountability, and is carried out below similar operating circumstances.” Beneath the new legislation:

Deciding whether employment are comparable will have to have an investigation of the employment as a complete. Small differences in ability, hard work, or duty will not protect against two (2) employment from remaining viewed as similar.

The new regulation lets wage differentials based on a person or a lot more of the pursuing aspects:

  • “[a] seniority system”

  • “[a] benefit system”

  • “[a] process that actions earnings by quantity or top quality of production”

  • “[g]eographic location when the spots correspond with unique fees of living”

  • “[r]easonable shift differential”

  • “[e]ducation, instruction, or knowledge to the extent these types of aspects are occupation-similar and reliable with a organization necessity”

  • “[w]ork-relevant journey, if the journey is typical and a organization necessity” or

  • “[a] bona fide aspect other than” race, shade, faith, sexual intercourse, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, incapacity, age, or country of ancestral origin, “which is not based mostly upon or derived from a differential in payment centered on [any of these] qualities,” “which is job-connected with respect to the situation in problem,” and “which is steady with business necessity.”

One particular of the above factors should fairly reveal the differential or “each variable [must be] relied on reasonably.” The new law prohibits businesses from minimizing the wages of any workforce to comply with this part. Also, below the new law, the actuality that an worker agreed to accept certain wages is not a protection to liability.

The new regulation provides a safe harbor by way of June 30, 2026, for companies accused of not having to pay staff the exact same wages for executing comparable perform dependent on a secured group. An employer has “an affirmative defense to all liability if the employer is able to exhibit that the employer has carried out a excellent religion self-evaluation … of the employer’s fork out practices inside the past two (2) several years and prior to graduation of the action and can show that any illegal wage differentials discovered by its self-analysis have been eradicated.” Right after June 30, 2026, an employer that performs a good faith self-analysis and eliminates any illegal wage differentials will not be liable for compensatory or liquidated damages or civil penalties but can even now be liable for unpaid wages.

Salary Historical past Ban

The new legislation gives that businesses may not “rely on the wage historical past of an applicant when deciding no matter if to consider the applicant for employment” or “in identifying the wages [the] applicant [will be] paid out by the employer, on use.” Even further, companies may perhaps not “seek the wage history of an applicant” or “[r]equire that an applicant’s prior wages satisfy minimum or utmost conditions as a situation of becoming deemed for work.” Businesses may possibly take into consideration prior wages just after an preliminary present is designed to justify escalating the payment presented to the applicant so extensive as “wage heritage is voluntarily furnished by the applicant for employment, devoid of prompting from the employer.”

Pay out Array Disclosure

The new regulation imposes necessities on employers to disclose spend ranges to both candidates and workforce. On an applicant’s ask for, an employer need to offer an applicant with “the wage variety for the place for which the applicant is applying.” Even without the need of a request from the applicant, the regulation presents that an employer “should offer a wage array for the place the applicant is implementing for prior to talking about compensation.” On getting a ask for from a present-day staff, “an employer shall provide the wage array for the employee’s placement.” Even in the absence of a request, “[a]n employer shall supply an worker the wage range for the employee’s situation the two at the time of employ the service of and when the staff moves into a new position.” Employers could not retaliate versus applicants or personnel for requesting wage variety information and facts.

Companies also could not avoid “an worker from inquiring about, discussing, or disclosing the wages of these types of worker or one more worker or retaliate versus an employee who engages in this kind of actions.”


Less than the new legislation, employers that violate the equivalent fork out provisions may perhaps be liable for unpaid wages, compensatory damages, and liquidated damages in the volume of up to two periods unpaid wages as effectively as attorneys’ expenses and fees. For violations of the salary background ban or the necessity to give wage ranges, workforce are entitled to compensatory damages or $10,000 in specific damages, equitable reduction, and attorneys’ costs and costs.

In addition, employers may well be necessary to pay back civil penalties to the Rhode Island Office of Labor and Education, which will change from $1,000 to $5,000 based on an employer’s prior violations. In calculating the sum of any penalties, Rhode Island’s director of labor and schooling or the courts will contemplate “the dimensions of the employer’s business enterprise, the superior faith of the employer, the gravity of the violation, the background of prior violations, and whether or not the violation was an harmless miscalculation or willful.”

Crucial Takeaways

In progress of the new law’s efficient date, employers with personnel in Rhode Island may perhaps want to assessment the regulation and take into consideration how to prepare. Listed here are a few feasible steps businesses can consider

  • Companies that recruit in Rhode Island may perhaps want to look at revising application forms and job interview queries to stay clear of asking concerns about applicants’ wage histories.

  • Employers may possibly want to be prepared to determine the pay out assortment for positions in Rhode Island and apply strategies to disclose individuals pay back ranges upon request or on retain the services of or advertising.

  • Businesses may well want to contemplate a proactive shell out fairness audit to just take advantage of the harmless harbor underneath the new Rhode Island law.


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Countrywide Legislation Overview, Volume XI, Amount 212