New York Considers Banning Inquiries about Salary History of Job Applicants

Following its fairly recent enactment of laws restricting the use of criminal background and credit checks, New York City has introduced proposed legislation that would ban companies from asking hires about their salary history. A bill is pending before the New York City Council (the "Council") which would amend the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) by making it an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer to inquire about a job applicant’s salary history, search publicly available records for such information, or otherwise rely on a prospective employee's salary history in determining salary amount at any stage in the employment process. Interestingly, the bill would allow an employer to consider a perspective employee’s salary history if the applicant "unprompted, willingly disclosed such salary history” to the employer. Mayor de Blasio has expressed support for the bill after implementing similar restrictions on city agencies in November through an Executive Order. However, the city bill goes beyond the executive order by calling for a ban on salary inquires “at any stage in the employment process” rather than just “prior to making a conditional offer of employment.”

These restrictions are being viewed as a “major step toward achieving pay equity for women and people of color.” Similar legislation has recently been introduced at the state level. The proposed state legislation would amend the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) to make it an unlawful discriminatory practice for employers to ask or seek the salary history of a prospective employee for an interview or as a condition of employment.

We will be tracking the city and state proposed legislation. At this point, the exact provisions of both bills are subject to amendment. In the meantime, employers should review their written policies and practices regarding hiring and think about changes they may need to make should these bills be enacted into law.