Maryland Enacts Equal Pay Law

ANNAPOLIS, Md.—Recently, the Democratic Maryland legislature enacted, and GOP Gov. Larry Hogan signed a tough equal pay law.

The law was pushed by the Maryland affiliate of the Working Families Party. It would particularly help working poor and working women, especially minority-group women.

The Maryland equal pay law outlaws pay discrimination on the basis of sex or gender identity. It also closes loopholes employers now use to justify pay inequity. Firms have used those loopholes nationwide to keep women’s pay far below that of men in equal jobs since the original federal equal pay law in 1962.

Maryland’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Act covers employees who work for the same employer at workplaces in the same county and who “perform work of comparable character or work in the same operation, in the same business, or of the same type.” Even an anti-worker law firm concedes it “covers more than just pay disparities.

It also protects women from employers’ tactics of creating the “Mommy track,” pushing women into less-favorable jobs with fewer opportunities because the women might take time out to raise and have children.

The Maryland law not only bans placing firms from placing employees into “less favorable career tracks” or positions, but also bans them from “failing to provide information about promotions or advancement,” and “limiting or depriving” employees of employment opportunities because of sex or gender identity.

Additionally, employers may not forbid employees from “inquiring about, discussing, or disclosing” their wages or the wages of other employees. And workers will be able more easily to sue firms that fire or discriminate them for doing so.

Maryland’s wage gap is 14.5 cents per dollar, meaning the median income for a female Maryland worker ($50,211) is that percentage below the median for a man ($58,746). Medians for Hispanic ($37,466) and African-American ($47,081) women are lower. The national median – the point where half earn more and half earn less – for women is 79 cents per man’s dollar.

Source: PAI