- Asking job candidates about their salary histories could be against the law if a bill introduced in Congress last week manages to get enough votes, according to SHRM.
- As with most of these types of laws, the bill from Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-DC, co-sponsored by Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., Jerrold Nadler, D-NY, and Jackie Speier, D-Calif., looks to even the playing field for all genders and ethnicities doing substantially the same work, SHRM reports.
- Under the Pay Equity for All Act of 2016 (H.R. 6030), the Labor Dept would have the power to levy fines up to $10,000 against employers who violate the law by asking questions about an applicant's salary history. Additionally, prospective or current employees would be able to bring a private lawsuit against an employer who violated the law and could receive up to $10,000 in damages plus attorney fees, according to SHRM.
Although 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 reinforce the wage gap by keeping salary trend low overall. To prevent that from happening, Massachusetts' new pay equity law, for example, bars employers from asking job candidates about their salary history in interviews. It is the first state to enact such a law.
Yet, even with equal pay laws already on the books, most typically protect employees in a limited way, according to experts. That situation may be beginning to shift, as more states have already attempted to strengthen their pay laws, including California, which — prior to the new Massachusetts law — had the "most aggressive" fair pay law in the country. Employers operating in those states need to pay attention when interviewing job candidates, and can expect more states to follow suit. As for the new House bill, considering today's political climate, it's chances of passage would appear slim.