On Tuesday, Governor Malloy signed into law a bill amending Connecticut’s Act Concerning Pay Equity so that, with limited exceptions, Connecticut employers will no longer be allowed to inquire about an applicant’s wage and salary history. Following the trend set by states that have enacted pay equity measures, including Massachusetts, Connecticut’s pay equity law imposes a number of restrictions on employers.
Beginning January 1, 2019, Connecticut employers with one or more employees (practically speaking, all Connecticut employers) will be prohibited from inquiring, either directly or through a third party, about a prospective employee’s wage and salary history. The prospective employee may voluntarily disclose its wage or salary history, however.
The salary history inquiry prohibition does have two important exceptions. First, it does not prohibit employers from taking an employment action under a federal or state law that specifically authorizes disclosing or verifying salary history for employment purposes. Second, the Act allows inquiries about compensation structure, as long as the employer does not inquire about the value of specific elements of the compensation structure (for example, stock options).
It bears noting that the Act already imposes several restrictions on employers with the goal of safeguarding pay equity. For example, employers cannot prohibit employees from disclosing or discussing their wages or another employee’s wages that have been disclosed voluntarily. Employers also cannot prohibit employers from inquiring about another employee’s wages, or require an employee waive these rights.
An employer that violates the Act could be liable for compensatory damages, attorneys’ fees and costs, punitive damages, and other equitable relief deemed proper by a court. There is a two-year statute of limitations to file a claim under the Act.
Employers are encouraged to review their employment applications to ensure that the applications do not inquire about prospective employees’ salary or wage history. Employers should also advise any employees with hiring responsibilities of the new salary inquiry restrictions. Employers with questions concerning the scope of Connecticut’s Act Concerning Pay Equity should consult with counsel.