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New York Department Of Labor Updates Wage Transparency Regulations


March 13, 2017

New York Equal Pay Act Wage Transparency Provisions Take Effect

The New York Department of Labor (NYDOL) recently adopted new regulations that place limitations on the discussion and disclosure of wages in the workplace. The amendments to Section 194(4) of the New York Labor Law took effect on February 1, 2017.New York Equal Pay Act Wage Transparency Provisions Take EffectGenerally, Section 194 of the Labor Law prohibits employers from restricting employees’ ability to inquire about, discuss, or disclose wages with other employees. However, last year, the law was amended to authorize employers to provide, in a written policy, reasonable workplace and workday limitations on the time, place and manner for inquiries about, discussion of, or the disclosure of wages.

New Transparency Regulations

Now the law has again been amended to curtail such employer prerogatives. The new NYDOL pay transparency regulations clarify that “such limitations must be justified without reference to the content of the regulated speech, narrowly tailored to serve a significant interest, and leave open ample alternative channels for the communication of information.” In addition, an employer may not impose restrictions on employees in such a way that unreasonably prohibit inquiry, discussion, or disclosure of wages at the worksite and/or during work hours, directly or in practice.

Under the regulations, an employer may prohibit an employee from discussing or disclosing the wages of another employee, unless the other employee provides verbal or written consent, either directly or indirectly. The co-worker can withdraw his or her consent at any time. The regulations also confirm that employees who have access to other employees’ wage information as a result of their job duties (e.g., human resources staff) may be restricted from disclosing such information.

Record-keeping under new regulations

The new employment regulations for New York employers also address employers’ record-keeping obligations. In the event of claim that the labor law has been violated, an affirmative defense is provided in Section 194(4)(c) provided that the policy has been disseminated via paper copy or electronic posting. In either case, the employer must keep copies of the written policy for six years. Lastly, the new regulation provides that its provisions may not be construed to diminish or waive any rights or obligations of any employee pursuant to any other law, regulation, or collective bargaining agreement.

The new law is now in effect. Employers that have policies governing employees’ rights to discuss their wage information should review them immediately to verify that they comply with the NYDOL regulations.

Are you a New York business owner? Do you have any questions regarding the new wage transparency regulations? Would you like to discuss the matter further? If so, please contact me, Gary Young, at 201-806-3364.