Pay Equity Measure Passes Connecticut House

Connecticut employers could soon be barred from asking prospective employees how much they earned in a previous job.

By a wide bipartisan margin of 142 to 4, the House approved the bill, sending it to the Connecticut Senate.

Employers could ask for what amounts to background information surrounding a job candidate's previous compensation but asking for specific amounts would be illegal.

Rep. Robyn Porter, (D - New Haven), who sponsored the bill, said the overall picture of someone's previous earnings is not off-limits.

“Different companies have different compensation benefits," Porter said. "They could ask about the elements, about the structure, but not the value.”

"This bill is not just about women and paying women equally. It’s about leveling the playing field for children, raising families out of poverty, it’s multi-pronged,” she added.

The debate over pay equity bogged down last year after some Democrats attempted to paint Republicans as being against any form of pay equity. When it later came to light that some Democratic caucus female staffers were paid less than their male counterparts.

In 2018, the debate started in a bipartisan way with a working group of Democrats and Republicans who examined the best path forward toward coming up with policies aimed at addressing the pay gap between men and women. It's estimated that women in Connecticut could earn about $500,000 less over their lifetime as a result of the pay gap.

Rep. Derek Slap, (D - West Hartford), said of banning the pay history question, “I think there is an element to this about us competing and we don’t want to be known as the state where women can be low-balled.”

Connecticut's largest business group, the Connecticut Business and Industry Association also backed the legislation, providing a boost to its chances of passage.

The group's spokesperson, Meaghan McDonald wrote, "While this is a significant change to the hiring process in Connecticut, employers understand the need to address this issue and are willing to do their part. This bill will make pay equity more attainable, while minimally impacting the ability of Connecticut companies to compete."

Republicans described the bill as a proper step forward.

“I don’t believe this to be a partisan issue. I believe this to be a fairness issue,” said Rep. Themis Klarides, the top GOP member in the chamber.

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