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Delaware Legislation Would Bar Employers From Asking Job Candidates About Wage History

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DOVER, Del. -- Delaware lawmakers are considering a bill that would bar employers from asking prospective employees about their wage history, a move supporters say could help bridge a wage gap between men and women but also make employment negotiations more fair for all job-seekers.

House Bill 1 was announced on Tuesday at the General Assembly in Dover. The legislation would allow wage expectations to be discussed but would not allow an employer to seek salary history over the course of the discussion and negotiation.

According to National Partnership for Women and Families, Delaware women on average earn 11 cents less than men on the dollar. Penny Deiner, president of the Delaware chapter of the American Association Of University Women, said she believed the legislation helped show progress is being made when it comes to recognizing the pay disparity for women in the workplace.

"Men and women are acknowledging that there is a gender pay gap and its something we need to do something about, not only for families but for civil rights," she said.

Rep. Ruth Briggs King (R-Sussex County) is among the co-sponsors on the bill. She said it would also help people who may be inexperienced negotiators with getting a fair wage for a job.

"The employer has a distinct advantage in knowing what your income would be. They may make a decision that's best for the business but not for you," she said.

However, Sen. Colin Bonini (R-Kent County) said he had some concerns about the bill and what it would mean for the private sector and the possible addition of another layer of regulation on businesses.

"My bottom line: Why is the state government interested in getting between the relationship between an employee and employer?" he said. "It's none of our business."

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