SB412 SUB1 Senate Bill 412 History

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WEST virginia legislature

2019 regular session

Committee Substitute


Senate Bill 412

Senators Beach and Hamilton, original sponsors

[Originating in the Committee on the Judiciary; Reported on February 23, 2019]



A BILL to amend and reenact §5-11-3 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended; and to amend said code by adding thereto a new section, designated §5-11-9b, all relating to the Katherine Johnson Fair Pay Act of 2019; honoring Katherine Coleman Johnson; amending definition of “unlawful discriminatory practices”; making it unlawful for an employer to require, as a condition of employment, that an employee refrain from disclosing information about their wages, benefits, or other compensation; and making it unlawful for an employer to require a waiver of employee’s rights to disclose information about their wages, benefits, or other compensation.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:

PREAMBLE: Born in White Sulphur Springs, Katherine Coleman 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 the white male engineers 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.


§5-11-3. Definitions.

When used in this article:

(a) The term “person” means one or more individuals, partnerships, associations, organizations, corporations, labor organizations, cooperatives, legal representatives, trustees, trustees in bankruptcy, receivers, and other organized groups of persons;

(b) The term “commission” means the West Virginia Human Rights Commission;

(c) The term “director” means the executive director of the commission;

(d) The term “employer” means the state, or any political subdivision thereof, and any person employing 12 or more persons within the state for 20 or more calendar weeks in the calendar year in which the act of discrimination allegedly took place or the preceding calendar year: Provided, That such terms shall not be taken, understood, or construed to include a private club;

(e) The term “employee” shall not include any individual employed by his or her parents, spouse, or child;

(f) The term “labor organization” includes any organization which exists for the purpose, in whole or in part, of collective bargaining or of dealing with employers concerning grievances, terms, or conditions of employment or for other mutual aid or protection in relation to employment;

(g) The term “employment agency” includes any person undertaking, with or without compensation, to procure, recruit, refer, or place employees. A newspaper engaged in the activity of advertising in the normal course of its business shall not be deemed to be an employment agency;

(h) The term “discriminate” or “discrimination” means to exclude from, or fail or refuse to extend to, a person equal opportunities because of race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, age, blindness, disability, or familial status and includes to separate or segregate;

(i) The term “unlawful discriminatory practices” includes only those practices specified in §5-11-9 and §5-11-9b of this code;

(j) The term “place of public accommodations” means any establishment or person, as defined herein, including the state, or any political or civil subdivision thereof, which offers its services, goods, facilities, or accommodations to the general public, but shall not include any accommodations which are in their nature private. To the extent that any penitentiary, correctional facility, detention center, regional jail, or county jail is a place of public accommodation, the rights, remedies, and requirements provided by this article for any violation of §5-11-9(6) of this code shall not apply to any person other than: (1) Any person employed at a penitentiary, correctional facility, detention center, regional jail, or county jail; (2) any person employed by a law-enforcement agency; or (3) any person visiting any such employee or visiting any person detained in custody at such facility;

(k) The term “age” means the age of 40 or above;

(l) For the purpose of this article, a person shall be considered to be blind only if his central visual acuity does not exceed 20/200 in the better eye with correcting lenses, or if his visual acuity is greater than 20/200 but is occasioned by a limitation in the fields of vision such that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle no greater than 20 degrees; and

(m) The term “disability” means:

(1) A mental or physical impairment which substantially limits one or more of such person’s major life activities. The term “major life activities” includes functions such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working;

(2) A record of such impairment; or

(3) Being regarded as having such an impairment.

For the purposes of this article, this term does not include persons whose current use of or addiction to alcohol or drugs prevents such persons from performing the duties of the job in question or whose employment, by reason of such current alcohol or drug abuse, would constitute a direct threat to property or the safety of others.

§5-11-9b.  The Katherine Johnson Fair Pay Act of 2019.

(a) This section may be cited as the Katherine Johnson Fair Pay Act of 2019, in honor of Katherine Coleman Johnson, an African-American mathematician born and educated in West Virginia, and later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor.

(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) Require, as a condition of employment, that an employee refrain from disclosing, discussing, or sharing information about the amount of his or her wages, benefits, or other compensation; or

(2) Require an employee to sign a waiver or other document that denies the employee the right to disclose the amount of his or her wages, benefits, or other compensation.


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