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Asking Job Applicants about Their Salaries Will Be Illegal in Massachusetts
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Charlie Baker

Governor Charlie Baker, Republican, with Treasurer Deborah Goldberg. Photo courtesy of New York Times.

Summary: Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has signed legislation that will work to close the gender pay gap.

In an effort to close the wage gap, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has signed a new law barring employers from asking applicants about their salaries during job interviews. The law will go into effect in July of 2018.


The New York Times called the Republican governor’s move “groundbreaking.” Now in the state, hiring managers must disclose a compensation number upfront, based on what the applicant’s value is to the company, not based on what he or she was previously paid. Employers also cannot forbid employees from sharing salary information, and the law will require equal pay for comparable jobs. Workers with more experience will still be allowed to be paid more.

Throughout the country, the issue of men making more money than women for the same job has been discussed extensively, and this bipartisan legislation is being touted as a model for other states. According to the United States Census Bureau, women are paid 79 cents for every dollar men earn. Critics say that this is due to the fields women choose as well as other factors such as not negotiating pay up front or taking time off for child care. However, economists have still found pay disparities not offset by those reasons.

The legislation was signed into law on Monday. The New York Times said that, “By barring companies from asking prospective employees how much they earned at their last jobs, Massachusetts will ensure that the historically lower wages and salaries assigned to women and minorities do not follow them for their entire careers. Companies tend to set salaries for new hires using their previous pay as a base line.”

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Federal law prohibits discrimination when it comes to men and women’s pay, but the wage gap has continued to exist in nearly all American industries. Senator Pat Jehlen, who co-sponsored the bill, said that few businesses try to be discriminatory but it still happens.

The state attorney general will be responsible for enforcement.

Do you think this law will help curb the gender-pay gap in Massachusetts? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: New York Times



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