If you are at the mid-point of your career, you may feel a great sense of pride in your earnings potential. After all, you likely make significantly more than you did when you entered your profession. Of course, if you are a woman, there is a good chance that you earn only 85 cents for every dollar your male colleagues take home.
Because employers tend to rely on a person’s salary history when setting wages, wage disparities often plague female workers throughout their careers. In the Aloha State, though, employers may not ask about how much you have earned in previous positions. They may also not prohibit you from discussing your salary with your colleagues or others.
Senate Bill 2351
Governor Ige signed Senate Bill 2351 into law on July 8, 2018, and it became effective on January 1, 2019. In simple terms, the law prevents Hawaii employers from asking about an individual’s salary history during the hiring process. Employers also may not conduct an independent investigation to uncover how much you earned at a previous employer. If you voluntarily discuss your salary history, however, your employer may use the information to prepare your salary and benefits package.
If you do not know how much other similar employees make, you may not be able to advocate successfully for fair pay. Hawaii law affords you the right to discuss your salary. That is, your employer may not take adverse employment action against you because you choose to talk about your wages or benefits. Furthermore, your employer may not retaliate against you for exercising your employment rights under state or federal law.
Even though men tend to earn more than women in Hawaii, state law has a plan for remedying the discrepancy. If your employer runs afoul of your legal protections, though, your career may be in jeopardy. By understanding your rights, you can better advocate for fair treatment and equal pay in the workplace.