AAUW Policy Guide to Equal Pay in the States

The gender pay gap is real, and it hurts women and families. Passing a federal law, like the Paycheck Fairness Act or the Fair Pay Act, would help protect everyone in all states. But until that happens, each state will continue operating under antiquated regulations and piecemeal state and local laws to combat unequal pay. While some states do have stronger laws than other states, AAUW members will keep working to make the whole country a better place for women to live and work.

Equal Pay Laws by State

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Equal pay or employment discrimination law
All or most employees covered
No retaliation/discrimination for involvement
in legal proceedings
No discrimination/retaliation for
discussing wages
State contractors must comply with
nondiscrimination laws
Can’t reduce another employee’s
pay to comply with law
Pay discrimination hotline
No salary history required
Employment listings must include salary range
Can’t provide less favorable career
opportunities or tracking based on sex
Clarified employer defenses for pay differences
Consider alternative employment
practices that avoid pay disparity
Agreement to a lesser wage is not a defense
Employer liable for damages
Allow for a class action lawsuit
or claims to be joined
Employer liable for costs and
reasonable attorney’s fees
Additional penalties for multiple violations
Employers must keep records of wages
State education programs on pay disparity
State collects and publishes data
on pay gap from all employers
State advisory committee on pay equity
Comparable worth law
Guidelines for designating jobs as dominated
by one sex, race, or national origin
Protections Defenses Remedies Preemptive Action Comparable Worth
49 39 39 17 3 23 3 2 0 1 5 3 21 35 16 33 7 12 1 4 7 5 4
AK
AL
AZ
AR *
CA
CO
CT
DC
DE +
FL F
GA
HI
IA
ID
IL
IN F
KS F
KY F
LA ^
MA
MD
ME
MI
MN
MO
MS
MT
NC
ND
NE
NH *
NJ
NM
NV
NY +
OH
OK
OR
PA F
RI *
SC
SD
TN F
TX
UT
VA F
VT
WA
WI
WV F
WY
Law enacted No law enacted
State with no
equal pay protections
State with poor
equal pay protections
State with moderate
equal pay protections
State with strong
equal pay protections
* Doesn’t include domestic workers Exceptions for small businesses + Only covers private employers
^ Only covers public employers F No coverage if federal FLSA law applies

 

Here are examples of several state’s network of laws to address the gender pay gap.


While these depictions of wage-protection laws looks overwhelming, all these regulations are necessary for the state’s women to have a chance at equal pay. Some states have more laws, some less, and some states — Alabama and Mississippi — have no equal pay laws at all. Adding to the confusion, many counties and cities throughout the country have additional regulations, separate from both state and federal laws. But regardless of a state’s legal framework, it is a daunting task for women to secure their basic legal right to fair pay. No matter where your state falls along the spectrum of equal pay laws, the bottom line is this: All 50 states can make improvements so that fair pay is an accessible reality for everyone.

For more information, contact AAUW State Policy Analyst Kate Nielson or Political Media Manager Amy Becker.


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