Massachusetts has been leading the nation in pay equity since it became the first state to pass a law requiring equal pay for equal work in 1945.
Last week, the Massachusetts House of Representatives unanimously passed another pay equity bill that updates the 1945 law.
The 1945 law requires men and women to be paid equally for “comparable work.” The new legislation aims to clarify and update several terms of the original law, such as “comparable work” and “wages.” The bill bars employers from asking about an applicant’s salary history in interviews and makes it illegal for employers to prohibit employees from discussing salaries.
The Massachusetts State Senate passed a version of this bill in January, and now a committee of House and Senate members will negotiate a final version of it. The bill must be passed by the end of the state legislative session on July 31.
Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo said that equal pay is a matter of “basic fairness.” It is unacceptable that women continue to face discrimination and inequality in the workplace. Equal pay promises a brighter future for equal rights and an economy in which everyone does better, including women.
Minnesota would be well served to follow suit, and could if this fall’s elections usher in a progressive, pro-equal pay majority in the state legislature.