See a previous report on the legislation in the video player above.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Columbus City Council members will mull a proposal that would bar central Ohio workplaces from asking job applicants about their salary and credit histories. 

Headed by councilmember Lourdes Barroso de Padilla, the legislation would ask that central Ohio businesses ax those two questions from their hiring practices. Barroso de Padilla said in an interview she sees it as just one push at achieving pay equity in the central Ohio workforce. 

The proposal is in its early stages. It has yet to be formally introduced in front of the council, and the language hasn’t yet been made public. But Barroso de Padilla said she wants to see movement on it align with Women’s History Month and Equal Pay Day, which falls on Tuesday, March 14.

At public hearing, pay inequity personal

In her mid-twenties, Alice Foeller worked as a newswire reporter covering crime in Chicago. Now a resident of the Northland neighborhood, Foeller said she took a pay cut at that job to cover the city more regularly, wanting to accelerate her career.

One of the daily newspapers in town took note of Foeller after she exclusively broke a story, eventually hiring her. Years later, she learned a colleague — fresh out of college — was brought in at a higher price tag than the salary offered to her when she was hired.  

“But he was a guy, and I was a girl, and I had told the person hiring me what I was making before,” Foeller said. 

Foeller and around half a dozen other people, mostly women, offered public comment at city hall Monday during the first public hearing on the legislation. 

“This is not just about paying people more money. It is about ensuring fair and equitable pay for work. It should no longer be accepted to demand Ritz Carlton work for Ritz Cracker wages,” said Lachandra Baker, the founder and lead consultant at a diversity, equity, and inclusion firm LBB Edutainment.

Five years ago, the nonprofit Action for Children took action similar to what’s outlined in the proposal. CEO Eric Karolak said he believes questioning someone on their prior pay or current credit “distorts the process of matching the best-qualified applicants for the job at hand.”

Shifting hiring practices, negotiations process

In Columbus, women ages 16 and older were paid 83% of what their male counterparts made in 2019, according to Pew Research Center data. For women of color, the rift is often bigger. 

Including salary and credit history inquiries in any portion of a hiring process can further differences in pay that already exist, Barroso de Padilla said. 

As someone who hires job applicants — both in her role on the council and at a nonprofit — Barroso de Padilla goes into conversations knowing the salary range of the role she is hiring for. Oftentimes, candidates also come to the table with a number in mind, she said. She sees this legislation as a crack at “a true negotiation between two people.”

“Instead of me taking information that I know about you, when you might not even know the range of salary for the particular job that I’m hiring for,” she said. 

As a Latina woman and a mother, the proposal is personal in other ways.

“When we think about our people and how they prosper, at some point we have to say that we believe in women, at some point we have to say that we are invested in their prosperity,” Barroso de Padilla said. 

Cincinnati and Toledo enacted similar ordinances in 2020, like states and cities across the country. Outside of Ohio, some locales have also required workplaces to publish salary ranges for roles. 

Barroso de Padilla said she wants to officially introduce the proposal in Columbus in the near future.

If it passes, it would take one full calendar year to come into effect, and businesses with 15 or fewer workers would not be required to abide by it. The Community Relations Commission, which handles discrimination complaints generally, would field complaints.