Yesterday, the Connecticut House of Representatives voted to pass legislation that would promote pay equity among men and women. However, the bill lacks a key provision that would have barred prospective employers from inquiring into an applicant’s salary history.
The CT Mirror and Hartford Business Journal do a good job reporting on the developments. The bill would:
- “Ban employers from using a worker’s previously earned wages as a defense against a charge of pay inequity;
- Protect employees from losing seniority based on time spent on maternity or other family or medical leave;
- Strengthen the requirement that employers provide “comparable” pay for workers performing similar duties;
- Clarify the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities’ ability to investigate complaints of discrimination when wages are involved.”
The Senate remains split along party lines, but the changes made to the bill make passage much more likely now.
It’s unclear how much of an impact the bill will have. For example, the bill changes Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-75 that bars discrimination for work performed under “comparable” working conditions. Previously, the standard was “similar”.
But even the Office of Legislative Research was skeptical about this change noting “It is unclear whether this change has any legal effect.” After all, one definition of comparable is “(of a person or thing) able to be likened to another; similar”.
Moreover, many employers do not base pay on a “seniority system” but instead focus on merit instead. Thus, any changes to the statute on the “seniority system” will have minimal impact.
In any event, before employers act, it’s wise to wait to see what happens in the Senate. Any changes to the law would be effective October 1, 2017.