The Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed a bill on Thursday that ensures equal pay for men and women working comparable jobs.
The bill prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of gender the amount of money workers can earn and other forms of compensation they may be entitled to.
“Right now, women in Massachusetts lose a combined total of over $12 billion annually due to the wage gap. Women of color are especially affected, with African American women earning just 66% and Latina women earning just 54% of what men make,” Christian Miron, Deputy Director of NARAL Massachusetts said in a statement.
Companies who violate this law could face up to $1,000 in fines. Employees who feel as if they’ve been discriminated against as a result of gender may also take their employers to court in order to recover unpaid wages.
“The Pay Equity Bill will take key steps to close this gap, like prohibiting employers from asking about previous salary in the hiring process and making sure they can’t fire employees for discussing their salaries openly,” Miron said. “This legislation also encourages employers to conduct internal reviews of their payroll to ensure equitable compensation.”
The bill is headed to the House of Representatives.