State Rep. John Frey (R-111) on Thursday, April 19, voted in favor of a bill to strengthen labor protections for employees in an effort to discourage gender wage discrimination in Connecticut.  Frey submitted a bill proposal to the Labor Committee at the beginning of the legislative session to address pay equity, which eventually became HB 5386, An Act Concerning Various Pay Equity and Fairness Matters, which he co-sponsored in the state House.

HB 5386, which passed the House on a 142-4 vote, prohibits employers from asking about a prospective employee’s wage history, unless the prospective employee voluntarily discloses it or the employer is authorized by law to ask.

In Connecticut, the average woman will earn $529,000 less over her lifetime than a male, and it is estimated that women in Connecticut lose a combined $5.5 billion due to the wage gap.

“The pay equity bill that passed the House today represents an encouraging compromise between advocates of pay equity for women and the business community,” said Frey. “I have long supported equal pay for equal work because leveling the playing field for women in the workplace will ultimately strengthen families and businesses alike. While this legislation can’t completely eliminate gender discrimination, taking an employee’s wage history off the table during the job application process will help break the cycle of women getting underpaid compared to men.”

Although the law makes changes to the hiring process, the Connecticut Business & Industry Association helped the lawmakers reach the compromise and supports the measure.

“Enabling discriminatory hiring practices is not in the best interest of any business, which is why the CBIA played a role in the negotiations and acted in good faith to tackle gender wage discrimination,” said Frey. “There is no reason to believe this law will make Connecticut businesses less competitive. In fact, I think this opens many doors for businesses to obtain maximum potential from all of their employees and help them ensure their employees are compensated as fairly and as accurately as possible. I reject the notion that allowing businesses to thrive and demanding fair treatment of employees have to be mutually exclusive concepts. I am hopeful the state Senate will act on this and send it to the governor to be signed into law.”

After its passage in the House, HB 5386 now heads to the state Senate for consideration.

State Rep. John Frey represents the 111th Assembly district, which covers most of the town of Ridgefield.