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Secrecy About Salaries Contributes To Wage Gap

The U.S. Senate is holding hearings this week on the Paycheck Fairness Act.

One provision of that proposed legislation would ban workplace policies that keep employees' pay secret.

Rochester attorney Beth Cordello handles cases involving employment discrimination.

She says it's already illegal to prevent employees from discussing their pay with co-workers, but that comes as a surprise to many employers she talks to. "It's right up there with politics in the workplace, or religion in the workplace. It's always traditionally been banned, that you don't talk about what you earn. Some employers even put it in their handbooks that you'll be reprimanded if you discuss your wages with other workers."

Cordello says some employers keep workers' pay secret to protect themselves from liability.

She says this lack of transparency helps to create the wage disparity between men and women, since workers cannot know they are unequally paid unless they understand what their counterparts earn.

Beth Adams joined WXXI as host of Morning Edition in 2012 after a more than two-decade radio career. She was the longtime host of the WHAM Morning News in Rochester. Her career also took her from radio stations in Elmira, New York, to Miami, Florida.