While everyone was celebrating the ushering in of recreational weed in California on New Year’s Day, another largely overlooked law went into effect that will make a huge difference in wage disparities for women and people of color.
On Jan. 1, Assembly Bill 168—which was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Oct. 12, 2017—went into effect. The law prohibits employers from using an applicant’s salary history as a determining factor in whether or not to make a job offer. It also prohibits employers from using salary history to determine how much to pay a potential employee. Employers also may not ask for salary history, and—if asked by an applicant—they must provide a pay scale for the position for which the applicant is applying.
A violation of any of the restrictions is now considered a misdemeanor.
For years, employers have used salary history as a way to pre-emptively disqualify candidates from a job. Salary histories have also been used to offer lower pay to job seekers.
According to an April 2017 fact sheet on “California Women and the Wage Gap” (pdf) from the National Partnership for Women and Families, the median annual salary for a woman working full time is $43,335, compared with $50,562 for men. That’s a difference of $7,227 per year and equates to California women making 88 cents for every dollar a man in California makes.
Take those numbers and multiply by the number of women working full time in California and you are looking at a combined total loss of $78.6 billion every year.
Nationally, 81 percent of black mothers are the breadwinners in their families, but the wage gap for mothers is larger than the wage gap for women overall. On average, mothers are paid 71 cents for every dollar paid to fathers.
While the California law is a step in the right direction, we need other states to follow suit.
There needs to be a nationwide movement to remove salary-history requests from the job-application process.
It is just another way to enable the disenfranchisement of already marginalized people.