As the year winds down and many employers scramble to ensure that they are on top of the many new laws that have been passed/enacted in the past year, we want to bring to your attention a few more related to salary history. Perhaps with all the attention on the flurry of anti-sexual harassment bills that passed in the wake of #MeToo, you may have missed that several states have now passed laws related to inquiring about an applicant’s salary history.
We have seen these laws before – they already exist in New York, and the general premise is that when interviewing an individual for a position, you are not permitted to ask about his/her salary history. Although not directly related to #MeToo, these laws are likely influenced by the movement, which has expanded from preventing sexual assault and harassment of women to ensuring that women have equal pay in the workplace as well. The focus of these laws is that women and other minorities are often paid less, and that basing a person’s pay on what he or she has previously been paid will only continue that trend. By enacting these laws, lawmakers are hoping to hit the reset button for women and minorities upon their finding new employment, and avoid pigeonholing them into lower salaries than their equally skilled counterparts. Over the past year, 10 additional laws have passed in the following states: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York (to include public employees), Oregon, Vermont and Washington.
Conversely, Michigan and Wisconsin have passed laws that pre-empt any local ordinances attempting to prevent employers from inquiring into an applicant’s salary history.
If your business operates in any of these states, please feel free to reach out to the Employment Group at Baker & Hostetler LLP for assistance in determining what, if any, effect these laws will have on your business.