Breaking Down the Salary History Inquiry Ban

Breaking Down the Salary History Inquiry Ban

Recent laws passed in major cities in the United States now make it illegal for those involved in hiring to inquire about a job candidate’s salary history. We break down exactly what this means for you and where the laws apply.

What is a “Salary History Inquiry Ban”?

Simply put, new laws in place are making it illegal for employers to inquire about a job candidate’s salary history. However, these laws may not apply to you depending on where you live or the type of company you work for.

This starts to get a little complicated because the salary history ban laws may exist in your area, but you just work for a company that it does not apply to. No worries. We will explain. The full extent of the law is still being worked on and in the early stages of any law, you will always have people testing if they can get away with breaking it.

Important note: Discussing your potential salary after you are hired is permitted. Job candidates can also freely share their salary history if they desire. BUT...they cannot be asked to share it.

Why do companies request salary history?

They do it to weed out job candidates based on previous salary history or as a negotiation tactic when a salary offer is going to be made.

What problems does this create?

Those with excellent skills and qualifications may not get paid the same amount of salary as someone else with the same skillset. In the past, they were either paid unfairly, negotiated poorly, or worked in a job market or industry that typically pays less.

Why the “Salary History Ban” now?

At the heart of this matter, the laws are trying to ensure “salary equality” for all employees. In the United States, there is still a salary gap between genders. Women in the United States still earn less than men, according to the National Women’s Law Center. Women make only 80 cents for every dollar a man makes in the US.

This law aims to stop the trend of inequality which was nurtured by asking for salary history and paying a person based on previous unequal salaries.

Where does the law apply and for who?

This is the part you want to pay most attention to. See below for links from local resources:

New York City (local law)

  • Law in effect:   10/31/2017
  • Companies impacted:  Public and private

San Francisco (local law)

  • Law in effect:  7/1/2018
  • Companies impacted:  Public and private

California (state law)

  • Law in effect: 1/1/2018
  • Companies impacted: Public and private

Pittsburgh (local law)

  • Law already in effect
  • Companies impacted: City employees

Philadelphia (local law)

  • Law was to go in effect on 5/23/2017. The Chamber of Commerce temporarily stopped it by filing a lawsuit.

Massachusetts (state law)

  • Law in effect: 7/1/2018
  • Companies impacted: Public and private

Delaware (state law)

  • Law in effect: as of 12/1/2017
  • Companies impacted: Public and private

Puerto Rico

  • Law in effect: 3/1/2018
  • Companies impacted: Public and private

New Orleans (local law)

  • Law already in effect
  • Companies impacted: City employees and employees of City contractors

Oregon (state law)

  • Law in effect: 1/1/2019
  • Companies impacted: Public and private

About those pesky online job applications

When a law like this is passed it takes a while for all of the effects of it passing to be felt, heard, and seen. You will still see for a while that job applications online will ask you for salary history in one of the forms and require you to do so. And if you don't, you can’t submit the application until you fill out the entire form.

That is a real pain that will not be fixed until teams who made the forms have to go in and change them. Until then, it may be better to either not submit, skip the application, or put in a false number and explain later.

You will also have to research where you live and where the company is based because you may be in an impacted city or state, but the company you are applying to is not. If that is the case, you are both bound by your own laws, meaning they can ask and you can say no.

Oh yes. This is going to be a work in progress. The rest of the United States has some catching up to do.

If you have any problems

See if your local labor commission has a hotline for those who have experienced salary history discrimination. For example, New York City has a 311 hotline or (718) 722-3131 where you can ask for the Human Rights Division. Also, check to see what labor resources may be available in your community.

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