WEST virginia legislature
2019 regular session
Senate Bill 412
By Senators Beach and Hamilton
January 24, 2019; Referred
to the Committee on the Judiciary]
A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new section, designated §5-11-9b, relating to the Katherine Johnson Fair Pay Act of 2019; honoring Katherine Coleman Johnson; making it unlawful for an employer to require, as a condition of employment, that an employee refrain from disclosing information about his or her wages, benefits, or other compensation or sharing information about another employee’s wages, benefits, or other compensation; making it unlawful for an employer to require a waiver of employees’ rights to disclose information about his or her wages, benefits, or other compensation or to share information about another employee’s wages, benefits, or other compensation; and limiting employers’ inquiry into applicants’ wage and salary history.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
ARTICLE 11. HUMAN RIGHTS ACT.
§5-11-9b. The Katherine Johnson Fair Pay Act of 2019.
(a) This section may be cited as the “Katherine Johnson Fair Pay Act of 2019”, in honor of Katherine Coleman Johnson, an African American mathematician born and educated in West Virginia and later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor. Born in White Sulphur Springs, Ms. Johnson's brilliance with numbers landed her on the campus of historically black West Virginia State College - at age 13. In 1939, she was one of three black students chosen to help integrate the graduate program at West Virginia University. Although her complex analyses were used in America's first human space flight and landing on the moon, she and the black female crew with whom she worked were degraded by having to use a segregated bathroom a long distance from their worksite. The women in her unit suffered economically as well, by being paid far less than the white male engineers at Langley who performed similar work. This legislation is intended to prevent future wage discrimination like that endured by Ms. Johnson and her black female coworkers, by providing greater transparency about pay rates and banning practices that may perpetuate the effects of past wage discrimination.
(b) It is an unlawful discriminatory practice, unless based on a bona fide occupational qualification, or except where based on applicable security regulations established by the United States or the State of West Virginia or its agencies or political subdivisions, for any employer to:
(1) Require, as a condition of employment, that an employee refrains from disclosing, discussing, or sharing information about the amount of his or her wages, benefits or other compensation, or from inquiring, discussing, or sharing information about any other employee’s wages, benefits or other compensation;
(2) Require an employee to sign a waiver or other document that denies the employee the right to disclose the amount of his or her wages, benefits, or other compensation or to inquire about, discuss, or share information about any other employee’s wages, benefits, or other compensation; or
(3) Inquire, or direct a third party to inquire, as to a job applicant’s wage and salary history from the applicant or a current or former employer. If an applicant voluntarily and without prompting discloses information about his or her compensation, the employer may seek to confirm that information after extending an offer of employment with compensation to that person.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to establish the “Katherine Johnson Fair Pay Act of 2019”. The bill would make it an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer, as a condition of employment, to prohibit an employee from disclosing information about his or her wages, benefits, or other compensation, or sharing information regarding any other employee’s wages, benefits, or other compensation. The bill also limits employers’ inquiry into a job applicant’s wage and salary history.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from a heading or the present law and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.