Coastal blue states have a reputation for passing on employee-friendly legislation, but in the case of bills to prohibit research into employee reward history, traditionally conservative areas of the country also jump on board.
Since 2016, 13 states and Puerto Rico have adopted legislation to regulate the use of salary history in recruitment procedures in some form, and another 13 cities or provinces have followed this example. The purpose of the salary history prohibition is to close the pay gap for women and minorities by not perpetuating the pay that may be lower than that of their white, male peers.
Historically conservative Maine and North Carolina are the newest states to subscribe to this theory. Maine lawmakers passed legislation on April 2 prohibiting employers from asking applicants about their salary history, and now she's going to Gov's office.
Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania also have rules for hiring government services. City agencies in Atlanta, Chicago, Louisville, Ky., New Orleans, Kansas City, Mo., Pittsburgh and Salt Lake City are also limited.
All employers are not allowed to ask about the payment history in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont and Puerto Rico. San Francisco, Cincinnati and Philadelphia have also adopted broader prohibitions. In New York, the patchwork of national and local laws has mainly been pronounced with the provinces of Albany and Westchester and New York City, which limits all employers in asking about the payment history.
Women who work full-time usually pay only 80 percent of what men are paid, according to a study by the American Association of University Women. "We do not yet know how these bills will affect the gender pay gap, but we do know that employers and employees see the benefits," said Kim Churches, CEO of AAUW, to Bloomberg Law. "You get a diversified and qualified pool of employees and they get a better chance to pay what is appropriate."
Fill Regulatory Gaps
Increasing the momentum in states and cities to close the pay gap could not only be attributed to the spotlight, but also to the lack of a federal rule to prevent discriminatory pay differentials.
Lawmakers at the House on March 27 passed the Fairchecks Act, which would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to prohibit employers from paying different amounts to individuals in similarly located jobs unless justified by "bona fide job-related factors" that are "consistent" with business necessity. "The Democratic-led law is unlikely to find similar success in the Republican-controlled Senate.
"Given the political environment at the federal level, we see that many states and local governments are intervening to close a perceived gap," said Julie Trester, a labor and labor lawyer at Cozen's & Connor's management in Chicago. Bloomberg Law said. "They see this as a way to ensure that salary issues are not continued from one employer to another."
The state office prohibiting salary history when hiring state institutions is a "good way to make this policy run fast and hard," Trester said. Although these regulations are unlikely to have a direct impact on local employers, "I think this should be a wake-up call," wider restrictions could come, she said.
In addition, government and city agencies serve as a pilot test or rewards in salary history to correct wage differentials and give legislators an idea of whether they should be rolled out to the general public, she said.
Who would be the next to pass the salary history legislation?
Churches said they are watching Illinois for an extension of the ban from government agencies to all employers. Former governor Bruce Rauner (R) vetoed the last attempt by the legislator to submit a bill, but the new government leader J.B. Pritzker (D) has indicated that it is receptive to a broader mandate.
West Virginia, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Washington legislators have also taken into account bills to ban wage history research in recent legislative sessions.
"There is now a much more robust national dialogue on equal pay in the workplace for everyone," said churches. "I am more optimistic than ever before."