Maine Governor Signs Legislation to Promote Pay Equality by Discouraging Salary History Questions

Maine Salary History Ban Signed into Law

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On April 12, 2019 – her 100th day in office – Maine Governor Janet T. Mills signed legislation entitled L.D. 278 “An Act Regarding Pay Equality” to promote pay equality by discouraging employers from basing wages on an employee’s salary history, according to a press release on the Governor’s website.

“By working to see that all people are paid based not on prior compensation, but on their experience, their abilities, and their qualifications, we can help level the playing field for women across Maine and enhance their economic security,” Governor Mills stated in the press release about the signing.

L.D. 278 prohibits employers in the state from asking about prior wage or salary history of applicants until after an offer of employment has been made to applicants, with exceptions included for federal and state law that require the disclosure of compensation history for specific employment purposes.

Research shows that men with a bachelor’s degree make on average 20 percent more than their female classmates after just one year of employment. As a result, employers can perpetuate the wage gap by basing wages on salary history and not experience and qualifications, according to the press release.

Sponsored by Senator Cathy Breen of Falmouth – who said LD 278 was “the right thing to do for Maine women and Maine taxpayers” – and passed overwhelmingly by the Legislature, “An Act Regarding Pay Equality” promotes pay equality by discouraging employers from basing wages on salary history.

Women make 82 cents for every dollar men make in Maine while women are paid 80 cents for every dollar paid to men nationally, together losing more than $900 billion a year because of the gender wage gap, according to a Fact Sheet from the National Partnership for Women & Families.

The Fact Sheet states the average U.S. woman has to work 15 months to earn what the average man earned in 2018 for 12 months of work. African American women make 61 cents on the dollar, Native American women make 58 cents on the dollar, and Latinas 51 cents on the dollar compared to white, non-Hispanic men.

State salary history bans also exist in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan (which prohibits salary history bans in state), New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Wisconsin (where local governments may not ban salary history).

Bans of salary history have been passed in the cities of Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Cincinnati, Ohio, Kansas City, Missouri; Louisville, Kentucky; New Orleans, Louisiana; New York City, New York;  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and San Francisco, California.

Salary history bans will increase as the equal pay movement spreads to narrow the gender wage gap between men and women and this trend was chosen by leading global background check firm Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) as one of the “ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends” in 2019.

“If new pay is based on previous pay, then gender pay gaps are perpetuated. The goal of such laws is to base compensation on the work performed and not on reliance on previous pay that may reflect gender discrimination,” said ESR founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Attorney Lester Rosen.

“When an employer has a background screening firm perform past employment verifications, it is critical that firm knows which states and cities prohibit such questions as well as software that facilitates compliance or else that employer could be fined,” explained Rosen, author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual.’

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check firm – offers employment verifications that provide the applicant’s rate of pay only if permissible under state and local salary history laws. To learn more, visit www.esrcheck.com/Background-Checks/Verifications-References/.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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