The year 2016 brought plenty of unexpected changes to the nation. A new (arguably surprising) President was voted in, as well as significant changes in how we view, classify, and treat the hard working employees in companies big, small, and independent. Emerging new business like the gig economy showed the diversity of how Americans make their money, while new anti-discrimination laws seek to foster worker equality. Recently, the country appears to be making significant strides in labor progress. Following trends toward more employee favorable laws against gender discrimination, the city of Philadelphia and the state of Mississippi are just two examples.
Since last year, Philadelphia saw recent changes in the job application process. Among other changes, past arrest and conviction history have been banned since 2016 from being asked on a job application. Now, asking about current salary and past salary information has been banned as well. In January of 2017, Philly Mayor Jim Kenney signed off on a wage equity ordinance, prohibiting employers from asking about salary history. Other states like Massachusetts have incorporated this into their own employment process, but Philadelphia is the first to do so as a city. It stems from the gender wage gap, where women have earned only 79 cents for every dollar that men have earned. While the ordinance goes into effect on May 23rd of this year, it also broadens the definition of “wages” to include commissions and even fringe benefits. Prospects do not have to reveal any of their prior salary information nor can they be disqualified from the employment process for not disclosing such information.
Wages and gender are also a hot topic in Mississippi. In January as well, the state proposed House Bill No. 9, also called the Evelyn Gandy Fair Pay Act. This Act, named after the first female Lieutenant Governor of Mississippi, seeks to prohibit gender wage discrimination. While Mississippi has no other structured anti-discrimination laws, this will be the first for the state, should it be passed. Among its remedies, this proposed bill will also allow for up to two years of back pay in situations deemed as unlawful.
These two examples are among many that already are in effect, and likely to follow by more jurisdictions unless Congress steps in for an uniform law covering the nation.
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