When prospective employers learn a job applicant's salary history, pay inequality can indefinitely follow a person from one job to the next. Instead, job applicants deserve compensation based on their educations, skills, and experiences—not based on what previous employers paid them. As of October 31, 2017, an amendment to the New York City Human Rights Law took effect, prohibiting companies from inquiring into the salary history of prospective employees.
The following is a brief overview of the restrictions imposed by the new law and who it affects:
- The law applies to all employers, employment agencies, or other staffing agencies that hire or interview applicants in New York City. If an applicant attends an interview in New York City, the restrictions apply even if the actual job is located outside of the city.
- The law prohibits employers and agencies from inquiring about an applicant's salary or other compensation at any previous positions. This includes questions on written applications, verbal questions, and inquiries to previous employers.
- Certain exceptions exist if the application is for promotion or transfer within the same company, as well as for jobs in the public sector with pay levels predetermined by bargaining agreements.
- If an applicant voluntarily reveals a previous salary, the prospective employer may further discuss salary history and even use it as a factor in salary determinations. However, prospective employers must not prompt the disclosure in any manner during the interview or on the application. All employers should completely remove any questions regarding salary history from applications—disclaimers that applicants do not have to answer such questions will not cause the employer to avoid liability. In fact, employers should specifically instruct applicants not to discuss any salary history at all up front.
- Many personnel references include fields for salary histories. When requesting a reference from a previous employer, companies should make clear that they are not seeking salary information. If a previous employer does disclose compensation information, a prospective employee can still hold the inquiring company liable for aiding and abetting a violation of the ban.
The salary inquiry ban intends to give prospective employees a chance at fair pay based on the position and their experiences. However, many employers may not take adequate steps to implement the necessary changes to prevent violations. While companies have had several months to prepare, some will still violate an applicant's rights.
Discuss Your Rights With a New York City Employment Law Firm
A prospective employer who asks you about your salary history anytime after October 31, 2017, in New York City could significantly reduce your offer of compensation. Consult with an experienced employment attorney regarding your rights. Braverman Law PC handles all matters regarding wages and employment, so please call (212) 206-8166 or contact us online for more information today.
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