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.

In this article, we break down exactly what this means for you and where the laws apply.

We'll basically discuss a few FAQs about this salary history inquiry ban.

If you are looking for the answer to a specific question, feel free to jump ahead to any of these sections:

What is a "salary history inquiry ban"?

Why do companies request salary history?

What problems does this create?

Why the "salary history inquiry ban" now?

Where does the law apply and for whom?

What about online job applications?

What if I have any problems?

What is a “salary history inquiry ban”?

Simply put, new laws are making it illegal for employers to inquire about a job candidate’s salary history.

However, these laws may not apply to you.

It depends on where you live or the type of company you work for.

This can start to get a little complicated in cases where the salary history ban laws may exist in your area, but you work for a company or industry where it does not apply.

No worries. We will explain.

The full extent of the law is still being worked on. 

As we all know, 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 so choose.

BUT ... they cannot be asked to share it.

Why do companies request salary history?

There are a couple of reasons why a company might want to know a candidate's salary history.

  1. They might request this to weed out job candidates based on previous salary history.
  2. They might also do it 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.

This unfair payment could simply occur because they negotiated poorly.

It could also be because they previously worked in a job market or industry that typically pays less.

As you can see, there can be problems with inequality if a candidate is required to state their salary history.

Why the “salary history inquiry 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 earn less than men, according to the National Women’s Law Center.
  • In fact, 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 often nurtured and exacerbated by asking for salary history and paying a person based on previous unequal salaries.

Where does the law apply and for whom?

This is the part you want to pay the 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: 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.

Because it is an online application, you might not be allowed to 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:

  1. Not submit 
  2. Skip the application 
  3. 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, as you can see, this is going to be a work in progress.

The rest of the United States has some catching up to do for salary equality to gain traction.

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.

Closing thoughts

Here at Find My Profession, we take pride in being your #1 career advice resource.

We also offer a top-rated professional resume writing service as well as career finder services with a focus on senior and executive-level job seekers.

Get in touch today and let us help you navigate every step of your job search.

Our goal is to help you find vocational success.

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