Highest ranking woman in House disagrees on gender pay equity bill

Politics

HAMDEN & HARTFORD, Conn. (WNTH) — The ‘National Committee on Pay Equity’ has proclaimed April 4 as “National Equal Pay Day.” The Committee says Tuesday is how far into the new year women must work to earn what men made last year.

Lawmakers in Hartford are taking the occasion to push for legislation they say will help to close that gap.

“Thyme & Season” is a popular natural grocery store in Hamden. It was founded by a woman 20 years ago, employs about 40 people and 30 are women. The owner says it never occurred to her that men and women would not be paid the same for the same work. Twenty-four-year-old Mollie Detmers has been working at “Thyme & Season” for four and a half years and says she hears pay equity complaints from many of her friends.

“Pretty much unanimous when I talk to my female friends they have stories to tell of their experiences,” said Detmers.

The ‘Connecticut Commission on Women, Children, and Seniors’ says nationally, the gender wage gap for white women indicates they make about 80 cents for every dollar made by a man in the same job. For women of color, the gap is much worse.

“Connecticut has been a leader in so many issues across the nation, that we need to join in the effort to help women get their equal pay for their equal work,” said Rep. Robyn Porter (D-New Haven) the co-chair of the legislature’s Labor Committee.

As early as Wednesday, the Connecticut House will take up a proposal that would call for the removal of salary history questions during job interviews and remove family and medical leave as a factor in determining worker seniority.

The highest ranking woman in the legislature, Rep. Themis Klarides (R-Derby) says she’s in favor of pay equity, but not removing the question about salary history.

“It’s a tool in the tool box for an employer. I need to know how much you made at your other job when I make a decision,” said Klarides.

The state’s largest business organization says there are already laws on the books covering pay disparities and agrees the salary history question is needed by employers.

“It helps determine the value, in some instances, of the employee based on what hey had been paid but there’s nothing stopping individuals from saying ‘okay, that’s what I was paid but this is what I’m looking for,” said Eric Gjede of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association.

There actually are two bills on this topic. Advocates are hoping they can be combined and come up for a vote in the House Wednesday (4/5) or next Wednesday (4/12).

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