Legislature upholds veto of equal-pay bill

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FALMOUTH — A bill to encourage equal pay for women, which was sponsored by state Sen. Cathy Breen, D-Falmouth, was vetoed by Gov. Paul LePage.

The Legislature failed to override the veto July 20.

L.D. 1259, “An Act Regarding Pay Equality,” would have prohibited employers from asking how much a prospective employee earned at their last job. It would also have allowed workers to discuss their wages without facing disciplinary action or retaliation.

In advocating for the bill, Breen said Maine women earn just 78 cents for every $1 earned by men, which creates an average wage gap of $10,093 annually.

By basing future salaries on previous wages … employers perpetuate the earnings divide between the sexes,” she said. “This practice is an albatross around women’s necks, limiting potential lifetime earnings.”

But the Maine Department of Labor, along with several organizations representing employers, opposed the bill, saying the available data does not support Breen’s contention that most women in Maine are underpaid.