Capitol Alert

Looking for a job? Your salary history could remain private

California Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman, right, says women have traditionally been undervalued in the workplace, and that bias can be perpetuated when their salaries are based on what they previously earned.
California Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman, right, says women have traditionally been undervalued in the workplace, and that bias can be perpetuated when their salaries are based on what they previously earned. Los Angeles Times file

Taking aim at the persistent gender pay gap in California, legislators are pursuing a law that would prohibit employers from seeking the salary history of job applicants.

Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman, D-Stockton, said women have traditionally been undervalued in the workplace, and that bias can be perpetuated when their salaries are based on what they previously earned.

“Every woman negotiating a salary shouldn’t have to wrestle with an entire history of wage disparity,” Eggman said Monday. “This bill gives women the power to determine for themselves where they start negotiating.”

Assembly Bill 168, which also requires private employers to provide the pay scale for a position if it is requested by an applicant, passed the Assembly on a 54-6 vote. It advances to the Senate after receiving bipartisan support.

“No longer should we as women take a step back and accept that being a woman comes with being paid less,” said Assemblywoman Marie Waldron, R-Escondido.

A recent analysis by the Pew Research Center found that women earned 83 percent of what men earned in 2015, with breaks in employment to raise children, overrepresentation in lower-paying occupations and gender discrimination all potentially contributing to the gap.

The Legislature has targeted the issue several times before, including a 2015 law that broadened California’s equal-pay mandates to include “substantially similar” work between men and women.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff

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