State House lawmakers this week approved a new hiring mandate after making significant revisions, including removing a provision prohibiting employers from asking about a candidate's salary history.

HB 5591, which advocates said is intended to help women achieve greater pay equity in the workplace, passed the House on a 139-9 vote.

The bill incorporated some of the proposals included in a similar bill, HB 5210. Lawmakers delayed a vote on that bill last week.

The revised measure makes the following changes to state statutes governing workplace discrimination:

  • Allows employees to maintain seniority after maternity or other family or medical leave;
  • Prohibits employers using an employee's previous wages as a defense against pay inequity claims;
  • Requires individuals be paid equally for work performed under “comparable” conditions, rather than current law requiring equal pay for work performed under “similar” conditions;
  • Shifts responsibility for investigating wage inequity complaints from the state Department of Labor to the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.

Call for Bipartisanship

House Republican Leader Themis Klarides (R-Derby) said while she continued to have concerns with the bill, lawmakers needed to address the issue in a bipartisan manner.

“We need to work together," she said.  "Unless we take these issues head on as a group we aren’t doing them justice."

House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz (D-Berlin) said the original provisions banning employers from asking questions about salary history were removed to "move the bill forward."

The revised bill removed a provision prohibiting employers from asking about a candidate's salary history.

“It’s a provision that a lot of the members of our caucus wanted to see remain in the bill,” he said.

"If we need to come back next year and the year after and the year after to do something that completes our goal, we will."

Gender-based pay discrimination is wrong—and illegal. CBIA supports equal pay for equal work.

However, HB 5210 and HB 5591, as originally drafted, added new layers of unnecessary regulation and barriers to transparency and job creation.

CBIA opposed both bills based on the widespread concerns expressed by many of our member companies.

That opposition was based on the unintended consequences of those measures—not their stated goal of equity.

HB 5591 now moves to the state Senate.

For more information, contact CBIA’s Eric Gjede (860.480.1784) | @egjede