Montgomery County, Maryland’s Equal Pay Act went into effect August 2019 and follows a greater trend taking shape in the United States.

The County Pay Equity Act currently applies to county employers and employees and prohibits County employers from requesting salary history from new applicants applying for County jobs. The Act also prohibits the County from relying on previous salary history for determining a starting salary. Previously, during the hiring process for County employment, applicants had to submit pay-stubs from current or previous employment.

The County Pay Equity Act also includes a component that requires “executives to study the effect of laws in different jurisdictions prohibiting an employer from considering an applicant’s salary history based on gender and submit a report to the Council on this analysis on or before July 1, 2020” and provide a report every two years thereafter.

Montgomery County will have the option of studying the effects of laws in 18 other states and 16 localities that have also banned employers from inquiring into salary history.

Currently in Maryland, women earn 79 cents on the dollar every man earns. The gap grows for women of color with black women earning 69 cents and Hispanic/Latina women earning 47 cents, as cited by a Montgomery County Council press release.

The County Pay Equity Act aims to close the gap and asserts more aggressive legislation than the state of Maryland’s Equal Pay Act. Currently, Maryland’s EPA prohibits employers from discriminating against employees by:

  • Paying a wage to employees of one sex or gender identity at a rate less than the rate paid to other employees under certain circumstances; or
  • Providing less favorable employment opportunities as defined by the law, based on sex and gender identity.

The law does not currently have any mention of salary history bans but could in the future. More on Maryland’s EPA can be viewed here.

Montgomery County Councilmember Evan Glass, responsible for first introducing Bill 4-19 proposing the County Pay Equity Act, stated “By banning the practice of relying on salary history, we will hopefully end the continuation of the wage gap that exists in Montgomery County, the state of Maryland and the United States.”

Glass’s comments are a common theme taking place across the United States and more states and localities will continue to pass equal pay legislation banning salary inquiries in efforts to help close the wage gap.

Employers, now is the time to conduct a pay equity audit to ensure there are no wage disparities within your organization. It’s better you discover them rather than the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. And with employers now required to submit their pay data snapshot report known as Component 2 in their annual EEO-1 filing, it’s more possible the EEOC will.

To learn more about achieving pay equity, click here.