When Congress returns from recess, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, the first woman to chair the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), will introduce a bill with original cosponsors Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) to prohibit employers from asking job applicants for their salary history before making a job or salary offer. The bill seeks to eliminate the wage gap that women and people of color often encounter. 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. Even though many employers may not intend to discriminate on the basis of gender, race, or ethnicity, asking for prior salary information before offering an applicant a job can have a discriminatory effect in the workplace that begins or reinforces the wage gap.
“Despite great strides forward, there are still far too many workplaces and professional situations where workers are denied equal treatment, or lack protection from unfair discrimination,” said Congressman Nadler. “The persistent gender and racial pay gap in our country shows the systemic disadvantages that remain. Ultimately, the only way to make sure women and minorities will be treated equally is to remove the early biases that exist, both in hiring practices and salary negotiations, and our bill works to eliminate those obstacles by requiring employers to offer salaries based on the value of the work. Employers can and should hire good employees without taking into account prior pay history or condemning someone to depressed wages due to gender and racial inequity.”
“Women and minorities often face discrimination in the job application process and in salary negotiations,” said Congresswoman Norton. “Many carry lower salaries for their entire careers simply because of wages at previous jobs that were set unfairly. Our bill will require employers to offer salaries to prospective employees based on merit, not gender, race, or ethnicity.”
“The greatest economic challenge facing our nation today is that workers are in jobs that simply do not pay them enough, an issue that is further exacerbated by the wage gap,” said Congresswoman DeLauro. “Despite years of progress, women are still paid on average just 79 cents to a man’s dollar and we must do more in our fight for full equality. Massachusetts has taken a bold step forward in closing the wage gap by preventing employers from asking salary history in interviews and I strongly urge Congress to follow the state’s lead and enact this legislation.”