As of January 1 2015, New Hampshire employers are required to give equal pay for equal work, regardless of gender. The new law prohibits employers from paying employees of one sex less than employees of the other sex for equal work that (1) requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility and (2) is performed under similar working conditions.
The law also provides protection for those involved in an equal pay dispute, and makes it easier for employees to obtain wage information. Employers in New Hampshire will need to review their wage practices to ensure compliance with the new law. Violation of the new laws could result in a fine up to $2,500, but employers would also be liable for unpaid wages and liquidated damages.
This law is part of an effort to close the gender pay gap nation wide—women still make about 78 percent of what their male counterparts take home. In many ways, the states have taken the legislative lead on addressing this issue. New Hampshire is one of 45 states to enact legislative protection for gender equal wages.
There are exceptions that allow for employers to pay at different rates when the differential is determined based upon a factor of demonstrable value. Differences in seniority, performance, and education (among other factors) would still be acceptable reasons for pay differential.
President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act in 1963, but women's wages still lag behind their male counterparts. In the wake of this new state law, employers need to be sure that pay raises, promotions, and HR processes reflect their new legal obligations. Doing so will not only provide legal protection, but constitute a step towards establishing equal pay as a reality.