Is it Legal to be Asked About Salary History in a Job Interview?

It is likely one of the most dreaded job interview questions after “what is your biggest weakness?”—the awkward inquiry about your current, or most recent salary. Answering the question can be stressful. If you give a low figure, your starting pay will likely be limited. If your number is high, you may scare the employer from making an offer because you seem too expensive. Is asking that question even legal? Well, like most answers to legal questions, it depends.

Banning the Question

A number of states and cities across the nation are tackling this issue head-on in an effort to ensure equal pay for women. Some companies, not surprisingly, do not like the fact that more laws are being put in place to intrude on their business practices.

Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts have passed legislation barring employers from asking job candidates about salary history or benefits. Philadelphia was in active litigation earlier this spring when a federal court temporarily stayed the law, which was scheduled to go into effect on May 23. New York’s law goes into effect later this year while the Massachusetts law does not until July 2018. Connecticut recently backed off the issue when it dropped the salary history prohibition from its bill aimed at ensuring gender pay equity. These states are not alone. At least eight others are considering passing similar measures. They include Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont, according to a USA Today article.

Advocates of the law say that basing future pay on prior wages allows for employers to perpetuate the earnings divide between men and women. Because women are often paid less than men for the same job, that pay disparity can follow a female candidate from job to job. Critics claim, beyond unnecessary government encroachment on businesses, that these types of restraints have a negative impact on job growth because businesses are choosing to set up elsewhere.

What This Means To You

So while Nevada does not specifically have laws on the books prohibiting a potential employer from asking about your past salary, it is important to know that your prior employer may, but is not required to, reveal your pay history. If you or someone you know wants to understand if questions asked at a recent interview were legal or has any other employment law-related question, contact the skilled attorneys at Parry & Pfau. We have years of experience representing clients across Nevada and can guide you every step of the way. Click here today to schedule your initial case evaluation.

(image courtesy of Joshua Ness)