Why the Salary Question Is Being Banned in Some States

by | May 23, 2018

By Mikaela Porter

Students who  testified in favor of a pay equity bill  prohibiting employers from asking prospective hires about their pay history returned Tuesday to the state Capitol to watch that bill be signed into law. They said it was inspiring, that they were hopeful and that they were proud of the achievement.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy called it a historic day for the state. Connecticut joins Massachusetts, Delaware, Oregon and California in banning the question. The law goes into effect Jan. 1.

Proponents of the law said asking about salary history maintains the existing pay gap between men and women. Prospective employees will still have the option to voluntarily disclose that information.

"Income inequity is perpetuated by the practice of asking for salary history before an offer is made, which can disproportionately assure that women are underpaid at their first job and continue to be underpaid throughout their careers, creating a cycle of poverty," Malloy said.

 

'My Younger Brother Is Always Going To Make More'

"I talked about how as a junior I'm looking at colleges and career paths but it's discouraging to know that no matter what field I go in and what industry, I'm going to be paid less than a man," said Megan Striff-Cave, 16, who attends Hall High School in West Hartford and is one of the students who testified at the Capitol months ago. "I talked about how I look at my younger brother and sister who are twins and know that, whatever they go into, my younger brother is always going to make more than my younger sister will by the nature of the fact that he's a boy and she's a girl."

After Malloy signed the bill into law and Striff-Cave received one of the pens he used, she said:

"Today was very inspiring and made me feel so hopeful for the future, that we are a state that's, you know, passing these laws and making these changes," Striff-Cave said. "In the wake of all the women's marches and stuff like that, that we're really getting things done and making a change for women, so hopefully, you know, when I'm entering the workforce one day my dollar's going to be equal to a man's dollar."

 

'It Affects Everybody'

Andy Tran, a 16-year-old junior at Conard High School in West Hartford, advocated for his mother, an immigrant who doesn't speak much English and works as an assembly worker.

"I didn't talk about me personally because I'm not a woman, but I talked about how it does affect me because my mother being a minority and being an immigrant she faces pay inequity," Tran said. "It's very hard for her to find other forms of work so she's stuck with the work she has now and she's paid less than her male counterparts that does the same work as her ... which affects me and my whole family because I can't participate in things like field trips and other stuff because we just don't have money. So I talked about how the pay inequity doesn't only affect women it affects everybody in general."

After the bill signing, Tran said he was proud.

"I think this is a step forward towards pay equity and towards women's rights," Tran said. "[It's] also helping bring up lower-income families, it's just a proud moment."

 

Wage And Minority Gap

"I had really explained how I am an African-American and I'm female and my description and subgroup, we really are affected by the wage gap and the minority gap, so for us this is really a really big achievement," said Grace Evan, a 16-year-old junior at Conard. "In a couple years when I really start working I'll be able to have that security of knowing that I won't be getting paid less than my peers, which in turn gives me the same value as my peers."

 

'A Part Of History'

Maggie and Zoe Slap, students at West Hartford's Sedgwick Middle School, testified in favor of a pay equity bill last year alongside their father, state Rep. Derek Slap, D-West Hartford. The bill passed the House but died in the Senate. It was revived this year by Rep. Robyn Porter, D-New Haven.

"I'm really proud of my dad; I'm very excited," Maggie, 13, said after the bill was signed Tuesday. "I feel like we were a part of history."

Zoe, 12, said: "I'm overjoyed, because now we don't have to be paid unfairly."

Porter said the bill signing gave her "tremendous pleasure and fervent hope" that the state is heading in the right direction.

Slap said he tells his daughters they can be whatever they want to be when they grow up, but also that there's a chance they will also be underpaid for their entire careers.

"This bill is going to change that," Slap said. "It's going to do something positive."

(c)2018 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.)