Providence – Council President David A. Salvatore’s Equal Pay ordinance passed its first reading tonight. The Ordinance prohibits employers from asking potential candidates for their past pay history, aiming to end the systematic discrimination of women being paid less than their male counterparts in Providence.

“If two equally capable people are doing the same job, it is reasonable to expect that they should earn the same salary. However, according to data from the U.S. Census, sadly that is not the case: women in the United States earn about 84 cents for every dollar their male counterparts are paid,” said Providence City Council President David A. Salvatore. “This ordinance sends a strong message that in Providence, we are all equal.”

Council President Salvatore’s ordinance makes it unlawful for any employer to inquire about a prospective employee’s compensation history, require disclosures of compensation history, condition employment or consent of interview for employment on disclosure of compensation history, or retaliate against a prospective employee for failing to comply with any compensation history inquiry.

Any employer or employment agency that violates this ordinance will be liable to the individual affected for damages incurred, as well as punitive damages. Those affected can seek damages in court, and the City Solicitor may also bring suit against violators to collect damages on behalf of the affected individuals.

In June of 2017, Council President Salvatore introduced a resolution to establish the Providence Equal Pay Task Force within the Providence Human Relations Commission. This seven-member panel is charged to promote equal pay for equal work through studying best practices from other municipalities, collecting data from City contractors and departments, and making policy recommendations to the Mayor and the City Council. In early January, the Task Force shared an interim annual report with the City Council and plan to have their full report with recommendations completed by the end of 2018.

The ordinance was passed on its first reading and will require a second reading and passage to become law.