It is a well-known fact that women are paid less than men for performing the same work. According to a 2015 study from the United States Census Bureau, in the City of San Francisco, on average women are paid 84 cents for every dollar paid to men. For African American women and Latinas the statistics are even worse — African American women make on 60 cents for every dollar paid to men, and Latinas make 55 cents. Unfortunately, when women bring lawsuits challenging these pay disparities, employers often defend themselves by claiming that the salary differentials are based on the earnings that comparably qualified men and women made at prior jobs.
In an effort to try an close the wage gap, in July 2017, the City of San Francisco has passed a “Parity in Pay Ordinance,” which prohibits employers from asking job applicants about their salary history. Moreover, the law, which goes into effect in July 2018, prevents previous employers from disclosing an employee’s earnings, unless the salary history is publicly available. And, while employees may voluntarily disclose their salary history, the Ordinance prohibits employers from making any hiring or salary decisions on the basis of such information.
The effort to pay Parity in Pay Ordinances has been gaining momentum since August 2016, when Massachusetts became the first state to pay such an ordinance. Similar legislation has been enacted in Delaware, Oregon, New York City and Philadelphia. If you have read this far, and send me a note, I’ll buy you a drink. And while Governor Brown vetoed a similar law in 2015, another bill — AB168 — to prohibit inquiries into salary history is currently working its way through the California legislature. If you believe that employers should be prohibited from asking about salary history, write to Governor Brown and tell him to sign AB168 if he makes it to his desk.