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House Committee Turns Down Wage Transparency Law

Wyoming Legislature

The House Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee voted to not move forward with a bill that would have increased wage transparency in the state.

If the bill had passed, employers would not be able to prohibit their employees from discussing wages with each other or punish them if they do.

"What the bill does is that it acknowledges that workers who have a workplace culture of trust with their employers are formed better. It's as simple as that," said House Minority Leader Cathy Connolly who sponsored the bill.

Supporters, including Laramie Rep. Trey Sherwood, said allowing for wage transparency would open conversations up among managers and staff and allow employees to do their due diligence.

"I see this as an opportunity to increase productivity and let those employees know what is the benchmark that they need to hit to receive those bonuses or increase the pay," she said.

Melinda Baas, the executive director of the Sweetwater County's YMCA, testified before the committee. She said she had employees who had discussed their salaries and one had noticed a discrepancy.

"We sat down, and we looked at things and realized we had misclassified some of her experience and had not considered what we should have, and she actually did qualify [for a higher salary]," Baas said. "So I did tell her I was very appreciative of that and had she not come forward, we could have potentially had a situation of her not staying, let alone if I had punished the employee who had talked with her, that could have lost two valuable employees."

Critics of the bill said it would not be beneficial to employers and could cause tension in the workplace.

Green River Rep. Scott Heiner said, as a manager, he had first hand experience with issues stemming from salary discussion.

"When I saw that there was some discussion, it led to bickering and discontent amongst the employees, and it really was counterproductive when that discussion was allowed in the workforce," he said.

The bill failed to move out of committee by one vote.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Catherine Wheeler, at cwheel11@uwyo.edu.

Catherine Wheeler comes to Wyoming from Kansas City, Missouri. She has worked at public media stations in Missouri and on the Vox podcast "Today, Explained." Catherine graduated from Fort Lewis College with a BA in English. She recently received her master in journalism from the University of Missouri. Catherine enjoys cooking, looming, reading and the outdoors.
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