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House Bill 4328 - Equal Pay Act of 2016

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[The bill discussed in this blog did not pass. If you have further questions on this topic, please contact the author by calling 866.617.4736 or by using our online contact form.]

We have previously reported on proposed amendments to the West Virginia Human Rights Act ("WVHRA"), which is most often recognized as a measure that prohibits discrimination on the basis of protected classes such as race, religion, gender, and disability to name a few. The WVHRA, however, defines a number of additional "unlawful discriminatory practices." House Bill 4328 offers an expansion of the WVHRA to include such a measure.

If enacted, House Bill 4328 would establish that an employer engages in an "unlawful discriminatory practice" by prohibiting employees from disclosing, discussing, or sharing information regarding the amount of their wages and benefits, or to prohibit employees from inquiring into the amount of their co-workers' wages and benefits. House Bill 4328 would also prohibit an employer from compelling an employee to sign any agreement wherein the employee agrees to not disclose the amount of his or her wages or benefits.

This is an issue that has been surfacing in news stories lately in other states. Employers should be aware that if this measure passes the legislature and is signed into law by Governor Tomblin, the employer could face liability under the WVHRA for attempting to prevent employees from sharing information about their wages and benefits. For now, the bill has been referred to the House Industry and Labor Committee.

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