By Mara Lee
Companies should not be allowed to prevent their workers from talking about their own paychecks, Gov. Dannel Malloy said Thursday.
Malloy is asking the legislature pass a bill that would outlaw prohibitions on comparing pay among co-workers.
According to the governor’s office, in 2010 the Institute for Women’s Policy Research conducted a survey that found 19 percent of employees reported they work for a company “where discussions of wages and salaries was ‘formally prohibited, and/or employees caught discussing wage and salary information could be punished.'”
The proposed bill would not require that companies publish what men and women in the same positions make at various experience levels. It would not address companies that discourage workers from talking about pay, but do not formally ban it.
“Pay secrecy practices ultimately encourage discrimination and perpetuate the gender wage gap. Women deserve the same pay for the same work – and that’s why we’re standing up for real action on this issue,” Malloy said in a statement announcing the proposal.
Senate President Pro-Tem Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said Thursday he supports Malloy’s call to action.
“I think it is something that will promote equity in employment,” he said. Looney said he thinks it’s unreasonable for employers to tell their workers not to discuss their own salaries.
If the bill passes, Connecticut would be the 11th state to act against pay secrecy.
A Supreme Court case that rejected Lily Ledbetter’s lawsuit because the alleged pay discrimination began too long ago showed how important pay transparency is, according to Carolyn Treiss, executive director of the state Permanent Commission on the Status of Women.
“Unless women are free to discuss their salaries — if they so choose — without fear of retaliation, it’s nearly impossible to bring gender-based wage discrimination to light,” Treiss said in a release from the governor’s office. The bottom line is this: if companies treat women and men equally, they shouldn’t fear such disclosure.'”
Two lobbying associations that speak for Connecticut businesses — the Connecticut Business and Industry Association and the National Federation of Independent Businesses — said they would have to wait to see the bill’s language before taking a position on it.
But Andy Markowski, state director of the NFIB, said he doesn’t believe small businesses in his organization ban discussions on employee pay.