State Policy

Safety and Respect at Work, No Matter Where You Live

When it comes to leveling the playing field for women at work, we’re living through a moment of truly historic state-level advocacy. In just the past two years, states have moved to protect women at work and break down barriers that prevent us from reaching our full potential.

Fighting for pay equity at the state level

The pay gap has continued to stubbornly persist in part due to the outright discrimination women face at work, along with the additional barriers women often encounter in the workplace, including sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination, lack of paid leave, and the inability to access quality, affordable childcare.

States can and should take concrete action to advance equal pay. In 2019, a momentous victory for pay equity, Alabama passed its first Equal Pay Act — making Mississippi the only state with no equal pay state-level protections on its books. In the past year alone, eight states passed pay equity provisions, with no sign of slowing down.

Here’s just a sampling of such provisions being made to realize equal pay state-by-state.

Banning salary history questions

Seventeen states have enacted statewide salary history bans, prohibiting employers from asking employees about their prior wages during the job application process. When employers use past salaries to decide their future wages, pay gaps can follow workers from one job to another. Employers should pay workers for the value of the job, regardless of their past pay grade.

Increasing pay transparency

The first step to closing the pay gap is shedding light on the pay gap. When workers can’t talk about their wages without fear of retaliation, they can’t tell when they’re not being paid their due. It’s what happened to Lilly Ledbetter for decades. In response, 21 states have passed laws to protect employees from retaliation if they share information about their pay. More information and transparency makes it easier for people to advocate for themselves, and puts the pressure on employers to make sure that there are no unexplainable pay differences.

Salary range posting requirements

So far, California and Colorado are the only states to have adopted policies requiring employers to share a salary range for any job openings — helping workers know upfront what they’ll be paid in a new job and preventing employers from undercutting certain applicants.

Fighting to end sexual harassment and assault at the state level

There’s unprecedented momentum at the state level to increase workplace safety and end sexual harassment. TIME’S UP helped pass laws in New York that extend the statute of limitations on second- and third-degree rape and strengthen protections for people who’ve been sexually harassed on the job.

But increasing women’s safety at work and in the world isn’t just a coastal issue. It’s something that every state must make a priority — and we won’t rest until women in all 50 states can feel safe and respected on the job.

Here are some of the ways states are moving the ball forward on safety at work.

Preventing sexual harassment before it starts

Ten states and New York City enacted key prevention measures to stop sexual harassment before it starts. That includes mandatory training and policy requirements for employers.

Expanding workplace harassment protections

Millions of workers are currently excluded from basic federal sexual harassment protections, including domestic workers, independent contractors, interns, and graduate students.

Let’s be clear: every worker deserves to thrive in an environment free of harassment or abuse of any kind. The good news is, five states have expanded workplace harassment protections to include these workers — helping more and more people come out of the shadows when they experience harassment at work.

Extending the statute of limitations for harassment and discrimination claims

Four states and New York City expanded the time limit for how long workers have to file a claim if they’re harassed or discriminated against at work. Laws should reflect the real barriers many workers face in coming forward with sexual harassment claims.

Restricting nondisclosure agreements

Thirteen states have limited or prohibited employers from requiring employees to sign nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) as a condition of their employment, or as part of a settlement agreement. Since NDAs can often be misused to silence employees when they’ve experienced an abuse in the workplace, this is a step forward in making sure everyone is safe when they go to work.

This state-level momentum isn’t just a flash in the pan. We can’t afford to slow down, and we need you with us fighting in your home state — join us today by entering your information below.