September 28th, 2016 | Sterling
U.S. Congresswoman Introduces Bill Banning Salary History
We all know that looking for a job, filling out applications and going on interviews is stressful. There are many questions that are asked in the application and interview process which could help or hinder our chances to moving along on the next step in the hiring process. Two of these “tricky” questions are “How much do you currently make?” or “How much did you make in your previous position?” At this point, you stop and think, should I answer these questions and what are the implications if I don’t answer them? You know that you can’t lie about your salary history, but you want to make sure that you are paid fairly based on your experience and the demands of the new job. You are not alone in wondering about answering these types of questions. More and more local, state and national legislators are supporting laws banning these questions to help promote equal pay.
A few weeks ago, U. S. Representative Eleanor Holmes North D-District of Columbia introduced the “Pay Equity Act of 2016” (H.R. 6030)” bill in Congress banning employers asking applicants salary history questions. The bill is designed to “even the salary playing field” among men, women and minorities doing substantially the same work. The bill would “amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to prohibit certain practices by employers relating to restrictions on discussion of employees’ and prospective employees’ salary and benefit history and for other purposes.” If the law is passed, the U.S. Department of Labor can hand out fines up to $10,000 against employees who violate the law by asking questions about an applicant’s salary history. Additionally, prospective or current employees would be able to bring a private lawsuit against an employer who violated the law and could receive up to $10,000 in damages plus attorney fees.
The Wage Gap
These national bills and state laws are being enacted to help reduce the wage gap between men and women workers. According to an American Association of University Women study, the pay gap between men and women starts at college graduation even when the course of study is the same. The organization found on average, women who work full time earn about 80 cents for every dollar a full-time male worker earns. The wage gap persists across all racial and ethnic groups and is found in every state and has been going on for decades. A recent report released by the Joint Economic Council found that at today’s rate of change the gender gap will not close until 2059.
State Legislation for Equal Pay
Some state legislatures have enacted laws helping to reduce the wage gap and promote equal pay. In August 2016, Massachusetts was the first state to pass a law preventing employers from asking job candidates about their salary history in an interview. The New York Times in covering the Massachusetts legislation stated the law requires hiring managers to state a compensation figure upfront based on what an applicant’s worth is to the company and not on what she made in a previous job. To further expand equal pay, Massachusetts will enact another law in July 2018 to combat pay discrimination. The law will require equal pay for workers who jobs are alike but also for those whose work is of comparable type and operation.
In May, Maryland passed a law requiring equal pay for comparable work and last year, a California law required employers to prove they pay workers of both genders equally for similar jobs. Plus, there is a bill awaiting the California’s governor’s signature banning employers from using salary information to justify pay differential between men and women performing the same job.
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