Connecticut's New Pay Equity Bill Prohibits Questions Regarding Prospective Employees' Wage and Salary History

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Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy signed Public Act No. 18-8, “An Act Concerning Pay Equity,” into law on May 22, 2018, making Connecticut the sixth state to prohibit employers from asking applicants about salary history. California, Delaware, Massachusetts, Oregon and Vermont had previously adopted similar bans.  The new Connecticut law will permit applicants to file lawsuits for damages and other remedies.

The new law is intended to help remedy the pay gap between men and women.  “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.

Effective January 1, 2019, Connecticut will afford job applicants these new protections:

  • Prospective employees may not be asked about past wages and compensation histories at any point during the hiring process, although they may choose to volunteer such information.
  • Prospective employees may be asked generally whether the previous employer had stock options or other equity incentives, but may not be asked to specify the value of such benefits.

These protections for applicants will be codified in the Connecticut General Statutes with protections about salary information that the state already provides to employees.  Under the existing law it is unlawful for a Connecticut employer:

  • To prohibit an employee from inquiring about the wages of another employee.
  • To prohibit employees from voluntarily discussing their wages with other employees.
  • To require employees to sign a waiver that denies them the right to voluntarily disclose the amount of their wages or the wages of another employee.
  • To require employees to sign a waiver (or other document) that denies them their right to inquire about the wages of another employee.
  • To discharge, discipline, discriminate, retaliate or otherwise penalize employees who disclose the amount of their wages to another employee. 
  • To discharge, discipline, discriminate, retaliate or otherwise penalize employees who inquire about the wages of another employee (neither the employee nor the employer is required to disclose the amount of wages paid to any employee).

Private Right of Action

The new act will add prospective employees to those who are entitled to sue employers who violate any of these legal protections. Employees and prospective employees (whether hired or not) will be authorized to sue within two years after any alleged violation of prohibitions about salary information and salary history. Employers found liable for violations may be required to pay compensatory damages, attorney's fees and costs and punitive damages, and may also be subject to other legal and equitable relief that the court determines to be just and proper.

Takeaways for Employers

Although the Act might still be subject to legal challenge,1 employers should begin preparing to comply with it as of January 1.  Preparations may include reviewing application materials (online and hard copy) and onboarding practices, and training hiring managers and anyone who conducts interviews on their obligations under the new law. 

 

Footnotes

​1 Similar legislation in Philadelphia, PA recently was struck down.  On April 30, 2018, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania held unconstitutional the portion of the Philadelphia Wage Equity Ordinance that prohibits employers from inquiring as to an applicant's wage history.

 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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