HR UPDATE: A new state law that can make gender pay disparity obsolete

Gloria Williams, President

West Virginia and Ohio are two of the 23 states currently considering legislation that will help close the pay gap between men and women.  In 2013 the White House Council of Economic Advisers found the median woman working full time all year earned 78 percent of what the median man working full time all year earned, or 78 cents for every dollar.

Over the past two years 7 states:  California, Oregon, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Minnesota, and New York have enacted gender pay equity measures. Each of the states has unique aspects on how they are handling gender pay equality.

A couple of provisions included in the bills that have been enacted in other states may have significant implications for West Virginia and Ohio employers if they are included in the legislation being considered.  One provision would eliminate pay secrecy if the employer is barred from requiring employees to sign a waiver of their right to discuss their wages.

Another provision would prohibit employers and their recruiters from asking prospective hires about salary histories.   The rationale for this is to avoid penalizing employees, especially women, on a continuing basis simply because they have been underpaid in earlier positions, thus perpetuating the existing gender pay gap.

When the information is released on legislation for West Virginia and Ohio, I will send an update on the implications.