As I said before, the notion that this might be a quiet year for employment law legislation at the Connecticut General Assembly has long since left the train station.
Indeed, we’ve appear to be swinging completely in the opposite direction. Anything and everything appears up discussion and possible passage this year — including items that really stood no chance in prior years.
One such bill, which appeared this week on the “GO” list (meaning its ready for considering by both houses) is House Bill 6850, titled “An Act on Pay Equity and Fairness”. Of course, you won’t find those words in the bill itself which is odd. There is nothing about pay equity in the bill; indeed, it is much much broader than that.
It stands in contrast to, say, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which tried to tackle gender discrimination in pay directly.
This bill would make it illegal for employers to do three things. If passed, no employer (no matter how big or small) could:
- Prohibit an employee from disclosing, inquiring about or discussing the amount of his or her wages or the wages of another employee;
- Require an employee to sign a waiver or other document that purports to deny the employee his or her right to disclose, inquire 1about or discuss the amount of his or her wages or the wages of another employee; or
- Discharge, discipline, discriminate against, retaliate against or otherwise penalize any employee who discloses, inquires about or discusses the amount of his or her wages or the wages of another employee.
You might be wondering: Isn’t this first bill duplicative of federal law? And the answer is yes, and then it goes beyond it. Federal labor law (the National Labor Relations Act) already protects two or more employees discussing improving their pay as a “protected concerted activity”. It’s been on the books for nearly 80 years. So, as noted in an NPR article:
Under a nearly 80-year-old federal labor law, employees already can talk about their salaries at work, and employers are generally prohibited from imposing “pay secrecy” policies, whether or not they do business with the federal government.
This provision goes beyond that by making it improper for an employer to prohibit an employee from even disclosing another employee’s pay.