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Salary history bill passes House

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A bill that would prohibit companies from asking potential employees about their salary history has passed in the house with 37 votes. It’s now heading to the Senate Labor Committee for consideration.

House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, a Democrat from Bear, introduced the bill as a way to help close the wage gap between men and women in Delaware, which one measure by the American Association of University Women places at 89 cents for every dollar.

Delaware employers did not initially come out against the bill, but behind the scenes the business community was split down the middle.

Two weeks ago, the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce’s employer advocacy committee met with Rep. Longhurst to discuss its concerns. That meeting led to a series of changes in the bill.

“There was a good back and forth with the committee and Rep. Longhurst on what the real-world implications of the bill would be,” said James DeChene, head of government affairs for the Chamber. “We appreciate the fact that the majority leader was willing to come in and have a conversation with us and talk to the experts that deal with this everyday.”

The changes mostly concern liability and enforcement, which some Chamber members felt were too stringent in the original bill.

The modified bill states that a violation of the law will lead to a civil penalty, rather than a discrimination claim. The penalties begin at no less than $1,000 and will not exceed $5,000. A second offense will be no less than $5,000 and not exceed $10,000.

Another revision protects employers from liability for a violation by a third party recruiter, as long as the company did its due diligence and informed the recruiter of the law.

In the case of an application that violates the law, a company will only be liable for one violation per position. This protects the company from getting a violation for every applicant that applied through the violating application.

“This is a better bill, but it still serves the purpose that Rep. Longhurst intended,” DeChene said.

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