ROCKVILLE – All nine Montgomery county council members support a bill to prohibit the county from seeking past salary history from any job applicant.
Council member Evan Glass introduced the bill March 5. It is designed to close the gender pay gap that exists among male and female county employees.
A public hearing on the bill is set for March 26 at 1:30 p.m.
When a woman has to show the county’s human relations department previous pay history before her new salary is determined, her smaller pay continues, thereby perpetuating gender pay inequity, Glass said.
The county should pay employees according to their work history and skills, “not what they were paid before,” he said.
Glass first learned of the county’s practice to request pay stubs when he started hiring his staff.
His bill is not retroactive and would not change the salaries of current employees.
Glass acknowledged it would be very expensive to level the playing field. He called his bill “the first step” in closing the gender pay gap.
“We don’t know what this actually will mean (financially), but we know it’s the right thing,” Glass said. “Make no mistake about it. This problem is real, here in Montgomery County.”
According to Glass, one male employee in the county’s Department of Health and Human Services earns more than the 12 female employees hired at the same time in the same department.
The male employee earns $31,317 more than the lowest paid of those dozen women and $5,629 more than the highest paid woman, Glass said.
In another example, a female employee in the county’s Department of Health and Human Services earns 66.8 percent of a men’s salary, even though both are Level 1 program managers.
“This is not fair, and that is not right,” he said.
Leonette Dixon, a county corrections officer, only learned of the pay disparity recently and said she now understands why she was told upon her hiring in 2003 never to discuss her pay with other employees.
“I feel like we all got to be the same. We all wear the same uniform,” she said after the council’s press conference.
“Time served should mean something,” she said, adding, “I thought we were beyond that, especially here.”
While Dixon acknowledged her pay would never catch up to that of the male officers she works alongside, she intends to fight, in her role as a union member, for equal pay for her granddaughter.
Jennifer Clavell, a county pool operator, said, “It stings quite a bit” to learn she is paid less than her male counterparts.
In Maryland, women make 79 cents to every one dollar a man makes, Glass said. For women of color, the pay disparity is greater. They make 69 cents to every one dollar a man makes. Latino women earn 47 cents for every one dollar a man makes.
Council President Nancy Navarro called the bill “a very important piece of legislation that I think sets the tone.” She said it “just so disappointing that our own county” offers lower wages to women.
During the 30-minute press conference, Andrea Johnson, senior counsel for state policy at the National Women’s Law Center, said gender pay equity is being addressed throughout the country.
“It’s time that Maryland does the same,” she said.
Ruth Martin, vice president for workplace justice campaigns with MomsRising, said stopping the practice of basing salaries on previous pay enables the county to take “a simple step, but it is a vitally important one.”
When salaries for women are raised, “fewer moms will struggle to put food on the table,” she said. They will have more money to spend now and during their retirement.
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