Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has signed a first-in-the-nation state law barring employers from asking job applicants about their salaries.
Passed unanimously in the Massachusetts state legislature and signed by a Republican governor, the measure is meant to promote equal pay for men and women.
It also prohibits companies from disciplining employees for discussing their salaries with co-workers. While a few other states, including California and New York, have instituted similar measures, none have gone so far as prohibit those discussions in the job interview process.
According to The Boston Herald, supporters of the new law said questions about salary history can foster pay discrimination, especially against women. If an applicant is making much less than what employers were expecting, they might try to lower their offers, leading to a perpetual cycle of lower wages, they say.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton tweeted in support of the measure Tuesday evening:
An important step forward on pay equity in Massachusetts. Women deserve equal pay across our nation. https://t.co/s560mVbiGQ— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 2, 2016
Even with the new restrictions, job applicants can still volunteer salary information if they are trying to negotiate.
Massachusetts was also the first state to pass a law requiring equal pay for equal work in 1945, before the nationwide Equal Pay Act of 1963.
The new law takes effect July 1, 2018.