New York City Bans Questions About Salary History

On May 4, 2017, May Bill de Blasio signed a bill into law that prohibits employers from inquiring about an applicant’s salary history on employment applications, and anytime thereafter in the employment process. The law is aimed at reducing the salary gap between men and women by ensuring that women who start with lower paying jobs will not be faced with continued pay inequities because of prior salaries.

An employer is also prohibited from conducting any form of search through publicly available information on a prospective employee’s “salary history,” which includes not only an applicant’s current or prior wage but also benefits and any other form of compensation he or she may have received. Furthermore, the law also makes it an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer to consider an applicant’s salary history in determining the salary, benefits, or other forms of compensation for that applicant. Thus, if the employer already knows the applicant’s prior salary history, it cannot use that information to determine benefits. However, if an applicant voluntarily provides salary history, then this information can be used to determine the salary, benefits, and other compensation and the employer may verify the salary history.

Notably, the law does not prohibit the employer and the applicant from discussing salary and other compensation and benefits being offered. As a result, the employer can inform the applicant about the anticipated salary of the position and can ask about the applicant’s salary expectations

Applicants who believe that an employer has violated the law can seek relief under New York City’s Human Rights Law, where they can file a complaint with New York City’s Commission on Human Rights, which can impose penalties of up to $250,000, or commence a civil lawsuit with remedies available under the Law, such as back pay, compensatory damages, and attorneys’ fees.

The law takes effect in one hundred eighty (180) days.

What’s the fallout? Employers in New York City must carefully review their hiring forms and handbooks with experienced counsel to confirm compliance with the law. Contact the Law Offices of Yale Pollack, P.C. to learn more.