Calling it a chance for Montgomery County to lead the state on a policy issue, County Executive Isiah Leggett is supporting a bill that would require companies doing business with the county to provide information to ensure that they’re paying male and female employees equally.
The bill, introduced at the County Council Tuesday by Council President Craig L. Rice (D-Dist. 2) of Germantown on Leggett’s behalf, also prohibits companies from retaliating against employees who share information about their salaries with one another.
Anyone who does business with the county should strive to pay their employees equally, Leggett (D) said Tuesday.
Women deserve to earn the same as their male colleagues, Leggett said, referencing a commonly used statistic that women on average make 77 percent of what men do in the same job.
The past has shown that Montgomery can lead the way on starting discussions that influence state policy, Leggett said.
In November, the county passed a bill raising the minimum wage in the county to $11.50 by 2017, months before the General Assembly voted to raise the statewide wage to $10.10 an hour by the same date.
Leggett said he didn’t know if pay disparity was a problem among companies who contract to provide services for the county.
But if he’s wrong, he wants to err on the side of making sure more information is available, he said.
The bill is an example of Montgomery being ahead of state policy, and this is an issue they need to take to Annapolis, said Sen. Jennie M. Forehand (D-Dist. 17) of Rockville.
Councilwoman Nancy Navarro (D-Dist. 4) of Silver Spring said that as the mother of two daughters, she has a strong interest in making sure women are paid equally with men.
There can’t be equal opportunity without equal pay, said Chandra Walker Holloway, president of the Montgomery County Commission for Women.
There’s still a significant disparity between men and women in the private sector, she said.
Councilwoman Nancy Floreen (D-At Large) of Garrett Park said the bill would force contractors to make sure they’re living up to the values they might espouse.
“This is a pretty politically correct place. We say all the right things,” she said.