With two exciting workplace equality bills being voted out of state House chambers this week, I am left wondering if a woman’s place is in the “House,” after all. (Har har. Sorry bad pun!)
New Mexico House Steps Up for Pregnant Workers
On March 14, the New Mexico State House voted 51 to 14 to pass a bill (HB 179) that would require employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers who need them. This bill is incredibly important because too often when pregnant workers ask for modest accommodations recommended by their doctors, like a stool to sit on or the right to drink water during a shift, they are instead forced onto unpaid leave or even fired. No one should be forced to choose between her job and the health of her pregnancy. It thus shouldn’t be surprising that the bill picked up bipartisan support on its way to the Senate, as similar bills have in states across the country.
Maryland House Steps Up for Equal Pay
Just one day later, the Maryland State House voted 94 to 47 to pass a bill (HB 398) that includes a simple, but oh-so-important equal pay protection: don’t ask job applicants for their salary history. The bill prohibits employers from asking the dreaded “salary history” question, because when employers rely on job applicants’ prior salary in hiring or in setting pay, pay inequalities from past employment are perpetuated throughout applicants’ careers. This common practice is detrimental to women and people of color who face conscious and unconscious bias in the job application and negotiation process and are more likely to be working in lower-paying jobs. The Maryland State House gets that employers shouldn’t force workers to take past pay discrimination into the next job.
Bravo to the bipartisan group of legislators in both New Mexico and Maryland who lent their support to these important bills.