Amid a docket of new policy proposals, a Virginia Senate panel heard a familiar one Monday when Sen. Jennifer Boysko again presented legislation to require employers to list a wage or salary range in all job postings and prohibit them from asking prospective employees for a salary history.
“This is the eighth time I have introduced this legislation,” Boysko told the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee before vowing to keep reintroducing the measure until it reaches the governor’s desk.
Boysko has pitched Senate Bill 370 as a way to help remedy gender pay gaps by deterring employers from relying on prior salaries to craft future compensation. The idea is that because women in Virginia as a group still make less than men, basing salary offers on past wages could perpetuate those disparities.
“Salary history is often a reflection of past discrimination,” Emily Yen, a lobbyist for the Virginia Education Association, told lawmakers.
Last April, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in Virginia, the median usual weekly earnings of women who worked full-time were 80% of what their male counterparts received. Full-time workers were considered people who usually worked 35 or more hours per week at their sole or principal job.
Women’s labor advocates have also argued requiring employers to disclose wage or salary ranges provides needed transparency that can dampen inequalities by putting male and female applicants on more equal footing in compensation negotiations.
“When employers negotiate without giving salary range information to job applicants, applicants are more likely to rely on their past pay as a negotiation reference point, which perpetuates existing pay gaps,” wrote the National Women’s Law Center in a brief.
Boysko’s legislation would not prohibit prospective employees from “voluntarily disclosing wage or salary history, including for the purpose of negotiating wages or salary after an initial offer of employment.”
Employers who violated the new rules would be subject to civil penalties of between $1,000 and $4,000, depending on their history of violations, as well as potential damages.
The Senate committee passed Boysko’s legislation on a 9-6 party-line vote after concerns from Republicans about whether the bill offered employers a right to appeal any violation determinations by the state Commissioner of Labor and Industry.
“If you’re having a penalty, you should be able to appeal it to a court,” said Senate Minority Leader Ryan McDougle, R-Hanover.
The bill was amended in committee to outline an appeals process. It now heads to the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee for review.
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