As summer approaches, most state legislatures have closed up shop for the year. Approximately 14 states are still in session, four of which are scheduled to adjourn in or around the end of June. Those jurisdictions that remain in session are enacting or advancing bills addressing a wide range of labor and employment issues. Some subjects have gained in popularity over the course of 2018, and continue to dominate the legislative calendars. This month’s State of the States will focus on these key trending topics: equal pay, paid sick leave, drug testing, harassment, discrimination and accommodation.

Equal Pay

Laws to promote gender pay equity gained momentum in 2018. Since the beginning of 2018, New Jersey and Washington State enacted laws to strengthen their equal pay statutes. Other states have enacted bills to prevent employers from inquiring about or relying on an applicant’s salary history in hiring and setting compensation levels. The idea behind this move is to prevent a discriminatory pay decision from following applicants throughout their careers. In May 2018, Connecticut1 and Vermont2 joined this legislative trend by enacting bans on salary history inquiries in their states.

Connecticut’s bill, which does not come into force until January 2019, prevents employers from asking job applicants about past wages and compensation histories at any point during the hiring process. Employers can ask applicants whether the previous employer had stock options or other equity incentives, but may not ask them to specify the value of such benefits.

Vermont’s law, which takes effect on July 1, 2018, similarly prohibits asking a prospective employee about or seeking information regarding his or her compensation history. Under the new law, compensation includes base compensation, bonuses, benefits, fringe benefits, and equity-based compensation.

To date, six states and several cities have adopted laws or ordinances limiting salary history inquiries.


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