The Salary Transparency Act was recently introduced in the US House of Representatives. If passed, HR 1599 would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to require employers providing an employment opportunity to disclose its wage range to employees and applicants for employment and for other purposes.

In short, the act would require all employers nationwide — irrespective of their size or number of employees — to include wage ranges in all job postings as well as provide wage ranges to applicants and existing employees upon request, according to a JDSupra blog post by Caine Caverly, an associate in law firm Willcox Savage’s labor and employment, fair housing and immigration practice groups.

If passed, the Salary Transparency Act would insert a section into the FLSA making it unlawful for an employer to:

  1. Fail or refuse to disclose, in any public or internal posting for an employment opportunity, the wage or wage range for such employment opportunity;
  2. In any case in which a public or internal posting for an employment opportunity has not been made available to an applicant for such employment opportunity, fail or refuse to disclose to such applicant the wage or wage range for such employment opportunity prior to discussing compensation with the applicant and at any time upon the applicant’s request;
  3. Fail or refuse to disclose to an employee the wage or wage range for the employee’s position upon hire and at least annually thereafter and at any time upon the employee’s request; or
  4. Refuse to interview, hire, promote or employ an employee or applicant for employment, or in any other manner retaliate against an employee or applicant for employment, for exercising any rights under this section.

Penalties for violating the act would include a civil penalty of $5,000 for a first violation, increased by an additional $1,000 for each subsequent violation, not to exceed $10,000. In addition, employers would be liable to each employee or applicant for employment who was the subject of the violation for statutory damages between $1,000 and $10,000, or actual damages, whichever is greater, plus attorneys’ fees and injunctive relief.

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-Washington, DC, introduced the legislation on March 14. It was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

“The Salary Transparency Act would help reduce the pay gap by requiring employers to provide the salary range for jobs,” Holmes Norton stated in a press release. “Salary secrecy facilitates both intentional and unintentional pay discrimination and perpetuates the pay gap.”

The proposed legislation is in its early days, and it is far from certain that the legislation will be enacted, according Caverly. However, its introduction at the federal level should serve as a reminder to employers that wage transparency laws are here to stay and will likely continue to proliferate.

“Employment counsel across the country will assuredly be tracking HR 1599 closely. But in the meantime, employers should take this opportunity to assure that they are complying with those state and local wage transparency laws that are already in effect, including in jurisdictions such as California, Colorado, Washington and New York City,” Caverly wrote.

CWS Council members can find more information on global pay transparency laws in a briefing by Fiona Coombe, SIA’s director of legal and regulatory research.