Is it Legal for Employers to Ask for My Salary History?

It is one of the questions interviewees dread the most: What is your salary history? It seems like you can not win. If you are completely honest, you will likely get lowballed. If you inflate your past earnings, you may be found out later and possibly fired. But is it illegal for employers to ask for your salary history?

Most lawyers will likely agree that you should not ask people how much money they are bringing in - this is particularly true when it comes to job applicants. There are several laws across the nation that address the issue of whether or not a potential employer can legally ask a candidate for his or her salary history. Some states are prohibiting employers from doing this very thing in an effort to create equal pay among men and women. That being said, it will take some time for these bans to be clearly defined.

Where Asking About Salary History is Banned

While it is true that there are clever ways to dodge - or artfully respond to - the salary history question - some cities and states are outright banning the inquiry. In fact, there is a recent trend across the United States to push against wage discrimination and the gender pay gap. Women still earn just 79 cents per every dollar that men earn, according to Business Insider and other reports. The theory behind the ban is that salary questions can inadvertently allow the pay inequalities to grow over time.

Cities and states where a ban has gone into effect as a result of legislation include:

  • California - effective January 2018, private and public employers are banned from asking about a candidate’s pay history;

  • Delaware - all employers are banned from asking about salary history as of December, 2017;

  • Massachusetts - as of July, 2017 all employers are prohibited from inquiring about a job candidate’s pay history;

  • New Orleans - salary inquiries regarding all city departments and employees of contractors woh for for the city are banned.;

  • New York City - public and private employers can not ask about pay history as of October, 2017;

  • Oregon - all employers will be banned from asking for salary history as of January, 2019;

  • Philadelphia - a ban on the salary history question for all employers was supposed to go into effect May 2017, but was temporary stopped due to litigation;

  • Pittsburgh - city agencies currently can not ask for pay history, but this rule only affects city workers;

  • Puerto Rico - effective March 2018, the island banned employers from asking about pay history ; and

  • Maryland - has a bill that would enact a similar ban but is yet to pass.

Other States and Salary Issues

Some states have taken the opposite approach on the issue. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that while Illinois’ state legislature passed a similar pay history ban ,governor Bruce Rauner vetoed the bill. Likewise, Michigan and Wisconsin have prohibited these types of bans on inquiries about salary history, according to Bloomberg.

Instead, an employer may choose the safer course of asking what the job candidate’s salary expectations may be. This still addresses the important issue of money without pegging the applicant’s possible wages to past history.

If you have any questions about salary history inquiries by potential employers, or any other legal question contact the skilled Las Vegas attorneys at Parry & Pfau today.

(image courtesy of Madison Kaminski)