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Equal pay for equal work
Many employers unaware of, but amenable to, new law

02/05/15



The Paycheck Fairness Act has been in effect since Jan. 1, but some businesses still aren’t aware of it, and many are saying it doesn’t change much for them.

Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester, says it’s really simple.
“Equal pay for equal work, that’s what it’s all about,” he said.
The law says an employer can’t discriminate based on sex, and there is a provision that allows employees to openly discuss their wages without fear of retaliation from their employer.
Calls to several local businesses showed that, whether they were aware of the law or not, nothing has really changed in terms of the way employers are running their businesses.
St. Joseph Hospital in Nashua employs about 1,650 full-time, part-time and per diem employees. Shirley Lussier, human resources director, said the hospital will not be impacted by the new law.
“It really does not change any policies for us. We pay based on the job being done. We were paying equally for equal work being done before this,” Lussier said. “We do not have a policy against [discussing pay].”
Southern New Hampshire University will not have to change any policies to abide by the new law either, said Brenda Labrie, director of human resources operations. She was unaware of the new law.
“We did not have a formal policy that said you could not discuss your wages,” she said. 
Tony Matos, owner of Altos, a 15-employee digital agency in Bedford, said he is aware of the new law, but not much has changed.
“It’s business as usual. Generally we employ degreed professionals, and I’m a big proponent of equal pay for equal work. I think that we do a pretty good job of compensating the individual fairly, without regard to gender,” Matos said.
Judy Pyszka, manager of Chalifour’s Flowers in Manchester, also has 15 employees. Prior to speaking with the Hippo, Pyszka was not aware of the law.
“It really doesn’t change anything here. We’ve been open and neutral about all that stuff,” Pyszka said, adding there was no previous policy barring employees from discussing wages. “It’s not affecting us, basically.”
Jean Mathieu, co-owner of Legacy Financial Solutions in Manchester, said the new law doesn’t impact her three-person shop, though she had been unaware of it too. Mathieu said employees have never been barred from discussing wages.
Despite the “no big deal” response from many businesses, D’Allesandro said this issue has been pressed a number of times in the past.
“I think it had a little momentum [this time]. I think the governor is steadfast, and I think those ingredients helped a great deal to get things done. It’s a national topic, it’s being considered. You get that kind of juice and things happen, victory carries its own momentum,” D’Allesandro said. 
D’Allesandro said the significant changes were to enforcement and power, and also penalties. Employers are guilty of a violation or misdemeanor subject to a fine of not more than $2,500 if they are found to discriminate. And despite many businesses still being unaware of the new law, D’Allesandro said, employers are to post — where employees can see — that it is illegal to pay employees differently based on sex.
“I think businesses will react very fairly,” he said.
D’Allesandro did, however, point to Republicans, saying during previous attempts to pass similar bills, they had “15 different reasons” to reject such a bill. Sen. Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, said there was no opposition this time.
Bradley said both parties compromised on the bill, and he commended the Democrats.
“I made it very clear to my caucus that we would support this bill. It was something that both sides were happy with, and it was signed to great fanfare. We all voted for that,” Bradley said. 
 
As seen in the February 5, 2015 issue of the Hippo.





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