A bill supposedly promoting pay equity and fairness will actually promote conflict in workplaces and further weaken Connecticut’s climate for job creators.

HB 6850</strong> threatens employers with court action if they forbid their employees from discussing or distributing other employees’ confidential wage information in the workplace.

What’s more, the threshold for allowable conversation is if an employee has ever talked about his or her wages with another employee—even in confidence. Then there would be nothing to stop other employees from discussing that employee’s wages, even if the worker objects.

Advocates claim that removing the taboo of discussing wages in the workplace will help promote greater gender pay equality.

But if that’s really the goal, the bill is unnecessary because both federal and state law make gender-based wages illegal. 

The truth is, HB 6850 will cloud rational discussion of pay differences that would include such legitimate factors as skills and work experience.

The amended bill prohibits employers from disciplining an employee for discussing another person’s wages if that person has disclosed their wages in the past, or discipline an employee for asking another about their wages. This leaves a variety of unanswered questions that will expose businesses to potential lawsuits for years to come.  Including:

1. If two employees at a company are in a relationship and confide to each other their respective wages, what if the relationship sours--can the company take no action to protect either employee if he or she decides to punish the other by spreading their former partner’s confidential wage information?

2. The bill says employers can’t require employees to keep their pay confidential through the use of contracts.  What then of routine confidentiality contracts currently in place between employees and employers?

3. What happens if an employee repeatedly asks another employee about their wages in a harassing manner?  Is the employer forbidden from disciplining the employee for harassment because of the subject matter of the harassment? 

When a bill has so many unanswered questions, and one wrong answer could result in a lawsuit for a Connecticut business that is attempting to protect their own employees – lawmakers should take pause before moving farther forward.

HB 6850 is wrong for Connecticut, and is an anti-employee bill.

For more information, contact CBIA’s Eric Gjede at 860.244.1931 | eric.gjede@cbia.com | @egjede