New York City Bans Salary History Questions From Interview Process

New York City Takes Aim at Wage Gap With Salary History Question Legislation


This past Wednesday, New York City joined Massachusetts, Puerto Rico, and the City of Philadelphia by passing legislation that will bar employers from asking job candidates about their salary history during the interview process. The new law, which extends beyond public-sector jobs and applies to private employers as well, will go into effect in 6 months.

Reason for the Salary History Legislation

Proponents of such legislation argue that salary history questions only serve to perpetuate unequal pay practices in the workplace. The thinking is that if women and minorities have received discriminatory pay in the past, it is unfair for future employers to use those pay levels as their basis for salary decisions. As Letitia James, New York City’s public advocate puts it, being underpaid once should not condemn one to a lifetime of inequity.

What This Law Means for Employers

Unless your business is located in New York City, Philadelphia, Massachusetts, or Puerto Rico, such legislation does not apply to you. However, similar laws appear to be sweeping across the nation. 20 states have introduced legislation banning salary history questions and the federal government is proposing to do the same with the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Furthermore, with so many companies being based in NYC, there is anticipation that this law’s influence will extend far beyond the Big Apple (often, if a policy is changed at headquarters, that change will be rolled out to all other business units across the country).

Salary History Legislation Could Face Legal Challenges

Despite the growing momentum, there are early signs that salary history laws will face opposition. This past Thursday, the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia filed a federal lawsuit against the city, citing that banning salary history questions violates the first amendment rights of employers.

Impact on Recruiting and Hiring

For Recruiters and HR professionals involved in hiring, these salary history laws will significantly impact how they go about their jobs. Hiring professionals often use such information as their anchor for salary negotiations. Under these new laws, they will have to be far more strategic in determining and negotiating salary levels with candidates.

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