A common question asked during interviews is, “What is your current salary?” Although this sounds like a harmless question, this can lead employers to legal trouble. Of course, this can only lead to trouble if your state or city enforces salary history ban laws. Many states prohibit employers from asking applicants about their past or present salaries or benefits. The salary ban is said to decrease the salary disparities among different genders. Additionally, salary history bans prevent employers from decreasing salary offers based on the applicant’s past income. As a result of these bans, employees feel as though they are getting a fair shot in earning compensation.
As of right now, there are 17 state-wide bans and 20 local bans. For the most part, states are not adjusting their existing regulations; however, there are a few states that are making changes. Ohio, New York, and New Jersey, for instance, are expanding their laws for the upcoming year. Here are the states that currently have salary bans:
District of Columbia (district-wide)
Louisiana (New Orleans)
Maryland (Montgomery County)
Missouri (Kansas City)
New Jersey (state-wide)
New York (state-wide)
North Carolina (state-wide)
Ohio (Cincinnati & Toledo)
Oregon (state wide)
Puerto Rico (Commonwealth-wide)
South Carolina (Columbia & Richland County)
Utah (Salt Lake City)
New Jersey Salary History Ban
Originally, state entities were the only employers affected by the salary history ban; now, however, all employers are affected. On July 25, 2019, Governor Sheila Oliver signed the Assembly Bill 1094, which, in short, prohibits employers from asking about salary history, benefits, and prior wages. This law will be effective on January 1st, 2020.
According to the State of New Jersey, employers cannot:
(1) screen a job applicant based on the applicant’s salary history, including, but not limited to, the applicant’s prior wages, salaries or benefits; or
(2) to require that the applicant’s salary history satisfy any minimum or maximum criteria.New Jersey Legislation
New York Salary History Ban
Originally, many New York counties had salary protections. For example, Suffolk, Albany, and Weschester Counties all prohibited employers from asking applicants about their previous compensation and benefits. Later, Governor Andrew Cuomo passed bill 6549 in an attempt to comply with new anti-discriminatory standards. As of January 6th, 2020, all employers in New York state must follow new salary guidelines. Under the new law, employers may not seek pay history; however, the employee may choose to share prior payment history with an employer. This would typically happen if the employer offered a salary and the employee provided pay history to negotiate a higher salary.
Ohio Salary History Ban
Ohio is one of many states that doesn’t have a state-wide ban; however, Cincinnati and Toledo are on the path of change. Around March 2020 (official date TBD), employers in Cincinnati will see changes. This new law will affect employers with 15 or more employees, while excluding state and local governments. In summary, employers will be prohibited from asking employees for their past income details. Additionally, employers will be required to provide all applicants with a pay scale for the position (upon request).
Next, the city of Toledo will see changes as a result of the Pay Equity Act . As of June 25th, 2020, all employers located within the city who employ 15 or more employees must comply with the law. Employers will not ask for pay history, benefits, or other past compensation. The employer and applicant, however, may discuss pay expectations.
What Employers Can Do Next
If you are an employer and you live in a state or city with a salary history ban, you need to ensure that you are staying compliant. In this case, you’ll want to understand your limitations as an employer by reading about your state’s policy or speaking with your local labor board. After that, ensure that you prepare your interviewers, HR department, and other hiring managers for this law. To make sure you’re ready, look at this helpful checklist from Brada Associates below.
– Review existing recruiting and onboarding policies, practices and procedures to ensure compliance with the specific provisions and prohibitions set forth in these FAQs
– Review all existing job applications to ensure those documents do not contain any requests for applicants to disclose their salary histories during the hiring process
– Provide FAQs to recruiters and other personnel involved in interviewing and onboarding to ensure they are not asking (or otherwise prompting) candidates to disclose salary history
– Recruiters should be trained to focus on an applicant’s salary requirements and expectations versus salary history, emphasizing the company sets pay commensurate with experience
– Refrain from any conduct which could be construed as a refusal to hire an applicant based upon his or her failure to provide salary historyBrada Associates