New law addressing gender, racial pay gaps discussed by Flanagan at Thursday event

Minnesota state leaders discussed a new law aimed at eliminating pay gaps that will go into effect next month during an event on Thursday morning.

Minnesota Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan spoke about the law, which her office says is an effort to eliminate both gender and racial pay gaps by encouraging businesses to rely on a person’s skills and qualifications to set wages.

The law, which will be enforced by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, will also prohibit anyone hiring from asking about, or considering, a potential employee’s past or current pay throughout the hiring process. Flanagan says research shows those considerations are a big way that employers get away with continuing the cycle of discrimination.

“In Minnesota, White women make 81 cents on the dollar, Asian women make 70 cents on the dollar, Black women make 61 cents on the dollar, Indigenous women make 61 cents on the dollar, and Latina women make 55 cents on the dollar compared to their White, male counterparts,” said Flanagan. “This is unacceptable, and it’s real money.”

Flanagan pledged to put an end to the discrimination in 2024, saying she herself has felt the effects of the pay gap. The lieutenant governor said at one point when she was applying for a job, she was asked what she made at her previous position. Feeling uncomfortable with the question, but unsure of how to dodge it, she answered. Flanagan said that only after getting the job and working for months, did she learn her male counterpart was making $40,000 more per year than her.

Flanagan was joined by Rebecca Lucero, the Commissioner of the state’s Department of Human Rights, as well as Gloria Perez, the President and CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota.