Bills have recently been introduced in a number of states that would prohibit prospective employers from inquiring about an applicant’s salary history. These bills are aimed at preventing wage discrimination among workers that perform similar or identical job functions.
These bills follow on the heels of approved legislation in Massachusetts. Massachusetts Senate Bill 2119, which was enacted on August 1 (to become effective on July 1, 2018), makes it unlawful to “screen job applicants based on their wage, including benefits or other compensation or salary histories … or request or require as a condition of being interviewed, or as a condition of continuing to be considered for an offer of employment, that an applicant disclose prior wages or salary history.” Similarly, a California bill (Assembly Bill 1676) was amended to remove the prohibition against seeking salary history information, but it included clarifying language stating that an applicant’s prior salary “shall not, by itself, justify any disparity in compensation.”
These bills are consistent with recent increases in legislative scrutiny of employment application practices, with many states and localities having enacted “ban the box” legislation focusing on an applicant’s criminal history at the initial application stage. Troutman Sanders will continue to monitor legislative developments relating to employment background screening and employee hiring.