HB2646 HFA Hornbuckle & Fleischauer 2-24

          Delegates Hornbuckle and Fleischauer move to amend the bill on 2, line 24, following section 4a and the period, by inserting a new section, to read as follows:

Ҥ 21-5-4b. The Katherine Johnson and Dorothy Vaughan Safe Harbor for Employees Fair Pay Act.

(a)(1) This section may be cited as the “Katherine Johnson and Dorothy Vaughn Safe Harbor for Employees Fair Pay Act,” in honor of these two brilliant African American mathematicians with close ties to Morgantown, Institute, and White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

(2) Dorothy Johnson Vaughn was born in Kansas City, Missouri, and moved with her family to Morgantown, West Virginia, when she was seven. Selected as valedictorian, Ms. Vaughan graduated from Beechurst High School in Morgantown in 1925 and received a B.S. degree in 1929 from Wilberforce University in Zenia, Ohio. In 1943 she took a position at NACA, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (the predecessor agency to NASA) in Hampton, Virginia. Ms. Vaughan was among the first group of African Americans to be hired as mathematicians and scientists following an Executive Order from President Roosevelt prohibiting discrimination in the defense industry. State law requiring “colored” employees to work separately from their white counterparts was followed despite the Order. In 1949 Ms. Vaughan became the first black supervisor at NACA when she was promoted to manager of the West Area Computers. This workgroup was composed entirely of African-American female mathematicians. Ms. Vaughan led the West Area Computing program for a decade. In 1958, NACA became NASA and abolished the segregated working environment. Ms. Vaughan joined the new Analysis and Computation Division, becoming an expert FORTRAN programmer. Sadly, after desegregation, Ms. Vaughan sought but never received another management position at NASA. Ms. Vaughan died on November 10, 2008. Her legacy and the story of the other women of West Computing lives on in the 2016 film Hidden Figures.

(3) Katherine Coleman Gobel Johnson was born on August 26, 1918 in White Sulphur Springs. and educated in West Virginia. Later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor, Ms. Johnson’s brilliance with numbers landed her on the campus of historically black West Virginia State College at age 13. In 1939, she was one of three black students chosen to help integrate the graduate program at West Virginia University. Although her complex analyses were used in America’s first human space flight and landing on the moon, she and the black female crew with whom she worked were degraded by having to use a segregated bathroom a long distance from their worksite. The women in her unit suffered economically as well, by being paid far less than their white male counterparts at Langley who performed similar work. This legislation is intended to prevent future wage discrimination like that endured by Ms. Johnson and her black female coworkers, by providing greater transparency about pay rates and banning practices that may perpetuate the effects of past wage discrimination.

(b) It is an unlawful discriminatory practice, unless based on a bona fide occupational qualification, or except where based on applicable security regulations established by the United States or the State of West Virginia or its agencies or political subdivisions, for any employer to:

(1) Prohibit or retaliate against an employee for disclosing his or her own wages or discussing or inquiring with other employees about their wages; and

(2) Request or require applicants to disclose salary or benefit as a condition of being interviewed, considered for employment, offered compensation, or being employed, or to inquire about job applicants’ salary or benefit history from current or former employers.

(c) It is not an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer confirm the applicant’s salary history if:

(1) The applicant has voluntarily disclosed it; or

(2) The employer has already negotiated and made an offer of employment with compensation to the applicant.”