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Wage secrecy bill clears House

Delaware Public Media

House lawmakers barely passed a bill last week outlawing wage secrecy for private companies in Delaware.

The proposal would nix any attempts by employers to dissuade their workers from talking about how much they get paid in or out of the office.

No Republican voted for the bill.

“I appreciate the intent of the bill. I just think the bill creates an unfriendly business environment for some of the corporate structures we have in the state,” said House Minority Leader Danny Short (R-Seaford).

Other more business-friendly Democrats like Reps. Quinn Johnson (D-Middletown) and Bryon Short (Highland Woods) initially cast no votes,  but eventually chose to support it when the bill was about to die on the floor.

If enacted, supporters say the measure will help close an 18-cent pay gap between men and women in Delaware.  Rep. Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington South) says it’s the next best step toward mandating equal pay between men and women. 

“If, on a national level, and maybe even on a state level, we cannot level the playing field, at least we can allow female employees the right to ask whether they’re being paid the same or not," said Keeley.

Last year, lawmakers mandated all public contractors pay equal wages, but couldn’t get enough support to extend that to the private sector.

The bill heads to the Senate next.