A landmark new law designed to narrow the gender pay gap in the nation’s most populous state bars California employers from inquiring about applicants’ previous salaries and benefits.
The salary privacy bill, was enacted by Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday, Oct. 12, at a celebratory signing ceremony at Women’s Empowerment, a Sacramento nonprofit for homeless women. He was surrounded by members of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus.
The measure is part of a caucus-backed package of bills “paving the way for a better, more inclusive, healthier California,” Brown said.
“Women will no longer be asked about their prior salaries,” said Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), the caucus chair, told the gathering. “What some people think is a simple question has been a barrier to equal pay.”
The new law applies to both men and women. But it is mainly aimed at countering discrimination which can follow women from job to job.
The strategy is gaining strength across the country. California is the fourth state — after Massachusetts, Oregon and Delaware — to stop employers from asking the questions.
Likewise, cities such as San Francisco, New York, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have passed ordinances forbidding past compensation inquiries.
The bill, AB 168 “gives women the power to determine for themselves where they start negotiating,” said principal author Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton). “Women negotiating a salary shouldn’t have to wrestle an entire history of wage disparity.”
“Wage inequality that has spanned generations of women in the workforce,” she said, adding that the law will “ensure that my 9-year-old daughter, and all women, can be confident that their pay will be based on their abilities and not their gender.”
Under the new statute, applicants are free to volunteer information on prior pay and benefits, and if they do, employers may consider previous compensation in their offers. The law also requires…