Progress to close the gender wage gap in the U.S. continues to spread. Some state, county, and local governments have joined the initiative to close the gender pay gap by passing legislation prohibiting employers from inquiring into candidate salary histories. Below are the latest to take action:
Alabama: On June 11, 2019, Alabama signed an equal pay act into law. The law prohibits employers from paying lower wages to employees who perform substantially similar work based on gender or race. The law allows the employer to “affirmatively demonstrate that a wage differential is based upon one or more specified factors, including a seniority system, a merit system, a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, or a bona fide factor other than sex or race, as specified.”
Colorado: In May 2019, Colorado passed a law preventing employers in the state from inquiring into the salary history of a job applicant. Additionally, they will not be able to retaliate against job candidates that do not disclose their previous salary earnings. The law won’t take effect until January 1, 2021.
Washington: On April 25, 2019, a statewide law was passed preventing all employers from inquiring into a candidate’s pay history. Employers with 15 or more employees must provide the minimum salary for the position in which the candidate is applying for. Employers may note salary history if the candidate voluntarily discloses it or an offer is extended. The law will not go into effect until July 28, 2019.
Maine: On April 12, 2019, the state passed a law prohibiting all employers from inquiring into the salary history of job candidates. Once an offer has been made, employers can inquire into previous earnings. The law will not go into effect until September 17, 2019.
North Carolina: On April 2, 2019, the state passed a salary history ban for state agencies prohibiting state agencies from inquiring into prospective employees’ previous earnings.
Illinois: On January 15, 2019, the state signed into law a salary history ban prohibiting state agencies from inquiring into prospective employees’ previous earnings.
Cities and counties are also taking action.
Kansas City, Missouri: On May 23, 2019, Kansas City passed changes to its current salary history ban to include employers with six or more employees. The law states that, “If there is a need for salary information, the City shall not inquire about an applicant’s salary history until after an individual otherwise qualified for the position, has been hired at an agreed upon salary.” The expansion will not go into effect until October 3, 2019.
Montgomery County, Maryland: On May 7, 2019, Montgomery County, Maryland enacted a law prohibiting the county from requesting salary history from an applicant for employment as well as relying on salary history to determine a starting salary effective August 2019.
Cincinnati, Ohio: A salary history ban was passed on March 13, 2019, and is projected to take effect in March 2020. The proposed legislation states that employers with at least 15 employees with operations in the city, including recruiters and job placement agencies, will be prohibited from inquiring into salary histories of job applicants.
Atlanta, Georgia: On February 18, 2019, the city of Atlanta prohibited city agencies from inquiring into salary history information in employment applications.
These latest states and counties to pass pay equity laws join others that have previously enacted legislation. A total of 17 state-wide bans and 19 local bans have been enacted, with more under consideration.
Organizations can stay current with the growing list of salary history bans by visiting HR Dive’s tracker here. If your organization has operations in these states and cities get prepared to comply with these salary history bans and other evolving equal pay laws as they surface.
Employers should try to get ahead of this trend by reviewing job hiring processes and paperwork to see if their companies’ practices are consistent with new trends in pay equity law, including such practices as refraining from asking applicants about their previous salary. The demand for pay equality is only going to grow, continuing to put pressure on legislators at all levels to consider implementing similar pay equity legislation across the country.