Monday, March 17, 2008

Bill Banning Firing for Talking About Pay Clears House

The House gave final approval Monday to a bill that would prohibit employers from punishing employees for disclosing the amount they are paid.

SB 122 declares that it is an unfair labor practice for an employer to "discharge, discipline, discriminate against, coerce, intimidate, threaten, or interfere with any employee or other person because the employee inquired about, disclosed, compared or otherwise discussed the employee's wages."

The bill also applies to situations where an employer requires, as a condition of employment, nondisclosure of wages earned and bans employers from requiring a signed waiver of an employee's right to disclose his or her wage information.

The proposed "Wage Transparency Act" exempts employer actions permitted by federal law and does not apply to employers not subject to the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. section 151 et seq.

The 37-26 vote on the measure followed party lines, except for the "no" vote cast by Rep. Bernie Buescher, D-Grand Junction. Reps. Kathleen Curry, D-Gunnison, and Rafael Lorenzo Gallegos, D-Antonito, were absent and did not vote.

Advocates maintain that the measure is needed to facilitate awareness of unequal pay for women and between employees of different races.

SB 122 is sponsored by Sen. Sue Windels, D-Arvada, and Rep. Terrance Carroll, D-Denver.

The bill heads back to the Senate for consideration of amendments approved by the House.