Because of the failure to pass the federal Paycheck Fairness Act, several states have enacted or considered legislation to help correct the gender pay gap. Eighteen states have protections from employer retaliation against employees who discuss one another’s salary. Four states have passed bills to prohibit employers from using a job applicant’s salary history during the hiring process. For the second year, Florida legislators have introduced strong bills in support of pay equity, including these and other provisions.
AAUW Florida members and Public Policy officers need to prepare now to advocate for these bills to be heard in committee, since they were not even heard last year.
Senator Linda Stewart (D-Orlando), Democratic Leader Janet Cruz (D-Tampa) and Representative Lori Berman (D-Lantana) have filed the pay equity bills, SB 594 and HB 393.
Nicknamed the “Senator Helen Gordon Davis Fair Pay Protection Act” in honor of Helen Gordon Davis for her hard work in the field of equal pay, the bills hope to strengthen state laws in this arena. In short, the bills specify which factors employers can use to decide to pay employees differently, such as education, experience, seniority, or merit. They would also prohibit employers from screening job applicants based on prior wages, bar employers from taking retaliatory action against an employee who discloses their wages to a coworker, prohibit employers from discrimination towards employees based on their sex, prohibit employers from using the wage or salary history of a prospective employee in determining a wage or as a condition to be interviewed, and create civil penalties for violations of these laws.
Pat DeWitt appeared at the press conference in Tallahassee October 24 announcing the Helen Gordon Davis bills along with Rep. Berman and Senator Stewart. She said in part:
We have almost a million family households with a female head and no husband present, and 25% are below poverty level. On the other end of the income scale, the gender wage gap is actually larger in percentage. Maybe if higher-income women had more parity with men, they would have more resources to run for the legislature, which in Florida has only 25% women.