Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie
Rep. Robyn Porter (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

HARTFORD, CT — Connecticut is one step closer to attempting to close the gender wage gap by banning employers from asking about a person’s pay history.

The bill sailed through the House with 142 in favor and only four Republicans in opposition. Reps. Anne Dauphinais, Doug Dubitsky, Craig Fishbein, and Rob Sampson voted against the measure.

The bill, which would simply prohibit employers from asking about a person’s salary history, now goes to the Senate. If the Senate approves it and the governor signs it Connecticut will become the 5th state in the country to pass legislation.

Rep. Robyn Porter, D-New Haven, said this would give women the “power and equalization they deserve.”

In Connecticut, the average women will make $529,000 less in earnings over her lifetime than a male. A Connecticut women working full-time earns 83-cents for every dollar paid to men and each year, Connecticut women lose a combined $5.5 billion due to the wage gap.

At an earlier press conference, Porter said that’s a lot of revenue the state is leaving on the table. She said if that money was given to these women the state would be better off because consumer activity would increase.

“It’s about leveling the playing field for children and raising families out of poverty,” Porter said.

There’s no teeth in the legislation to make sure employers are complying with the law.

House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, said “discrimination still happens all over the map,” and he added that this legislation won’t stop discrimination.

But Aresimowicz also said, “We have to stand up and be very consistent in our beliefs. People should be treated fairly. People should be able to work without fear of harassment.”

House Majority Leader Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, quipped that “trial lawyers” would enforce it.

Sampson said he doesn’t believe the bill actually addresses pay equity because it would apply to individuals of all genders.

Rep. Derek Slap, D-West Hartford, disagreed.

He said the evidence is very strong that when women graduate college and get their first job, the pay gap appears at 6.5 percent immediately.

“If you begin your career making 6.5 percent less and your employer is asking how much you currently make, that gap is going to grow and grow throughout your entire career,” Slap said.

Connecticut ranks 47th in the country in wages lost over a lifetime because of the gender wage gap, Slap said.

He said not being able to ask this question is not going to “single-handedly solve all of the problems, or single-handedly close the gender wage gap, but it is going to make a difference.”

The Connecticut Business and Industry Association, which helped lawmakers reach a compromise, supported the measure.

“While this is a significant change to the hiring process in Connecticut, employers understand the need to address this issue and are willing to do their part,” the business association said in a statement. “This bill will make pay equity more attainable, while minimally impacting the ability of Connecticut companies to compete.”