Following 9th Circuit Decision, Norton, DeLauro, Nadler, Speier Introduce Bill to Eliminate Gender and Racial Pay Gap by Prohibiting Employers from Seeking Salary History

May 2, 2017 Issues: Trump, Civil Liberties, Jobs, Labor and the Economy

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Yesterday, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) introduced the Pay Equity for All Act of 2017 with original cosponsors Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Jackie Speier (D-CA) to prohibit employers from asking job applicants for their salary history before making a job or salary offer.  The bill seeks to reduce the wage gap that women and people of color often encounter.  The bill is particularly vital after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit overturned a lower court ruling that determined that pay disparity based exclusively on past salaries was discriminatory under the Equal Pay Act.  Massachusetts, New York City, the District of Columbia, and Philadelphia have passed similar legislation banning employers from seeking past salary history.  Because many employers set wages based on an applicant’s previous salary, workers from historically disadvantaged groups often start out behind their white male counterparts in salary negotiations and never catch up.

“After last week’s disappointing 9th Circuit ruling, it is critical that Congress take legislative action to ban the practice of asking for an employee’s salary history, which disadvantages women and minorities, who disproportionately carry lower salaries through their entire careers simply because of wages at previous jobs that were set unfairly,” said Congresswoman Norton.  “Our bill will help reduce the wage gap by requiring employers to offer salaries to prospective employees based on merit, not gender, race, or ethnicity.”

“The 9th Circuit’s ruling represents a step backward in the fight for equal pay and only serves to reinforce the salary gap that has persisted for generations,” said Congressman Nadler (D-NY).  “To end this cycle of gender and racial pay inequality, states and localities—including New York City—have recently passed laws banning employers from asking about salary history. Congress should follow New York’s lead and ensure that people all around the country are afforded the same opportunity to break the cycle of pay inequity.”

“Forcing employees and potential employees to disclose their salary history sabotages our efforts to combat the wage gap for women and minorities,” said Congresswoman Speier. “The Pay Equity for All Act protects applicants from being frozen in pay scales unrelated to their experience, skills, and merit.”

“Despite years of progress, women are still paid just 80 cents, on average, to a man’s dollar and we must do more in our fight for full equality,” said Congresswoman DeLauro. “Women and men in the same job should have the same pay, and eliminating questions on salary history is a strong step forward in ensuring that we close the wage gap once and for all. Congress should follow Massachusetts’s lead and enact this legislation to give women across the country the opportunity to succeed.”

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