HARTFORD – State Representative Terrie Wood (R-141) has announced her support for legislation that addresses gender wage discrimination in Connecticut by changing labor laws regarding employment. Citing her previous support of pay equity between men and women, she will help craft a bipartisan bill that addresses the issue with input from the business community.
At present, the Labor Committee has raised two bills regarding pay equity: Senate Bill 15 – An Act Concerning Fair and Equal Pay for Equal Work, and House Bill 5386 – An Act Concerning Various Pay Equity and Fairness Matters. Rep. Wood has long supported “equal pay for equal work,” having voted in favor of a labor bill addressing pay equity and fairness in 2015 that became law and a bill that passed the House last year but died in the Senate.
“Our goal must be to ensure all employees in Connecticut are treated fairly without restricting businesses from profiting in a competitive environment, and I reject the idea these are mutually exclusive concepts,” said Rep. Wood. “While the gender wage gap exists because of a variety of factors, some of which – like job title and education level – may not be overtly biased, the reality is that a cycle of complacency perpetuates itself where many women are not afforded the same opportunities in the workplace. We can amend labor laws in order to prevent employers from engaging in discriminatory hiring practices and break that cycle in which women end up making less than their male counterparts.
Rep. Wood specified a main component that she would like to see in a final bill, which is amending the 2015 labor law to insert a provision that keeps employers from docking a workers’ seniority because of time spent on leave because of pregnancy or protected family leave. She supports legislative language that contains a provision prohibiting employees from asking a prospective employee about their wage history before an offer of employment is made and accepted, and preventing an employee’s prior wage history from being used as a defense to a claim of wage discrimination.
“The changes being proposed this year would continue to deter business practices that can place female employees in a sequence where they consistently receive lower salaries,” said Rep. Wood. “I think this legislation will actually help businesses in Connecticut thrive, because it means their employees can have further assurance that their work is valued and their success is in no way tied to their gender. We can make our state appealing to families and businesses who want to help turn our economy around.”
As the 2018 session progresses, Rep. Wood says she will work with her colleagues from both parties to craft and advocate for legislation that helps families.