The "hidden" meaning behind the law, in my view, is that it is attempting to avoid violation of the federal Equal Pay Act, which prohibits discrimination of employees based on sex/gender. To wit:
- "No employer . . . shall discriminate within any establishment in which such employees are employed, between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees . . . at a rate less than the rate at which he pays wages to employees of the opposing sex . . . for equal work on the jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions . . ." 29 USCA § 206(d)(1).
The phrase, "other employees performing comparable duties," is gender neutral, but the similarities to the Equal Pay Act is unmistakable. So, the question is, given the current labor market, of which your agency is a part, is the wage offered for the new employee position nondiscriminatory? Does the new job require equal skill, effort and responsibility and is it performed under similar working conditions. If yes, then pay at the rate of the other employees currently working in your agency is appropriate. If no, then the wage must reflect the appropriate market rate, because the other employees are not actually working under similar working conditions.
Hope this helps.
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