Is Asking for a Salary History Going Extinct?

As more states and cities ban asking for a salary history, we look at the benefits of the bans and the impact on employers.

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If you recently applied for a job in certain states, you may have noticed that you were not asked to divulge your salary history. That’s because certain states have passed a ban on asking job applicants their past salary history in an attempt to end discriminatory practices toward marginalized people groups in the workforce and close the gender-pay gap.

Let’s take a look at the salary history ban, where it’s in effect, and the benefits it has for workers.

What is The Salary History Ban?

The ban is a state- or city-mandated law that bars employers from asking a potential job candidate’s prior compensation.

Asking for salary history is often a critical component in wage inequality. If two candidates have different salary history, and one is lower, the potential for them to be getting paid different rates for the same work is increased. And this pattern seemed to especially impact women and minorities. A salary history ban attempts to ensure that all job candidates will be onboarded with the same wage promises.

Benefits of the Ban

Proponents of salary history bans state the benefits it provides in closing wage and compensation gaps between men and women as well as minority and majority groups. Prohibiting employers from asking candidates to disclose their previous compensation limits perpetuating previously existing wage disparities, proponents of these bans argue.

Proponents argue this is one of the more effective means of establishing a more equitable approach to compensation in the hiring process.

Where is Salary History Banned?

As of early April 2019, the following states have banned salary history:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • New York State
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Vermont
  • Puerto Rico

A number of cities have also banned inquiring about salary history:

  • San Francisco, California
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Louisville, Kentucky
  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Kansas City, Missouri
  • New York City
  • Albany, Suffolk (effective June 2019) and Westchester Counties in New York State
  • Cincinnati, Ohio (effective March 2020)
  • Pittsburg, Pennsylvania

The following states have pending legislature about the ban:

  • Indiana
  • South Carolina
  • Virginia
  • Colorado

What States Have Outlawed the Ban?

Despite the broad trend across the U.S. toward implementing the ban, there a few states that have yet to jump on board.

Michigan prohibited the salary question ban in June of 2018, and it went into effect in January of 2019. This is largely due to the fact that local governments are not allowed to regulate employer job candidate inquiries during the application process. Wisconsin passed a similar law in April 2018 that barred local governments from prohibiting employers to inquire about salary history.

Perhaps the biggest argument for outlawing the ban is to prevent local governments from having too much involvement in the business hiring process. It’s a way to keep government involvement from infiltrating business practices.

This article is intended only for informational purposes. It is not a substitute for legal consultation. While we attempt to keep the information covered timely and accurate, laws and regulations are subject to change.

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