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Salary History Would Be Hidden From Employers Under Bill Passed By House

People standing around talking to employers at a job fair.
A job fair at Fort Meade in Maryland (U.S. Army/Creative Commons)

Job applicants would no longer be required to hand over their salary history to potential employers under legislation that cleared the House of Delegates on Wednesday.

Backers of the bill say salary information suppresses wages for employees as they hop to new jobs, especially for women. A number of states have passed similar proposals in the wake of a Massachusetts law passed in 2016.

Del. Josh Cole (D-Prince William) said in a floor speech on Tuesday that his bill would help boost employees’ ability to increase their pay.

“This law will fight the pay discrimination many employees across the Commonwealth face,” Cole said.

One study from researchers at the University of Minnesota and the MIT Sloan School of Management found that employers paid workers more and considered a broader swath of potential employees in an experiment in which they hid some job applicants’ salaries. 

Republicans have largely remained unpersuaded, questioning the necessity of the change.

In a committee meeting last month, Del. Chris Head (R-Botetourt) said companies use salary information to avoid overpaying employees.

“You may be able to bring them in at a lower level, and then give them incentives to get to that higher level,” Head said. “Because whenever you’re hiring somebody in a capacity, you never really know what you’re going to get.”

The rule would only apply to employers, public or private, with at least 25 employees. Violators could be fined $100.

The legislation now heads to the Senate for a vote there.

Ben Paviour covers courts and criminal justice for VPM News with a focus on accountability.
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