In Minnesota, it is still lawful to ask job applicants about their pay and benefit history. However, a number of states and cities are moving toward banning such practice. Thus, Minnesota employers with other locations should be mindful of these changing laws. The idea is that by doing so, the gender and minority job gap will eventually be equalized. As of today, the following locations (that I am aware of) have banned private employers from asking a job applicant about certain compensation history:
- California. Effective January 1, 2018, per Assembly Bill 168, employers cannot ask salary history information, including compensation and benefits; however, applicants may volunteer the information. Also note – “An employer, upon reasonable request, shall provide the pay scale for a position to an applicant applying for employment.”
- Delaware. Effective December 2017, per House Bill 1, employers cannot seek compensation (wages and benefits) history from an applicant or former employer, except after an offer has been made, for the sole purpose of confirming the applicant’s compensation history.
- Massachusetts. Effective July 1, 2018, per S.2119, employers cannot seek the wage or salary history of a prospective employee. Note, this act has a lot more employer restrictions with respect to pay equity.
- New York City. Effective October 31, 2017, per NYC Law, employers cannot solicit questions about current or prior earnings or benefits, search public records to find that information, or rely on current or prior earnings or benefits to set compensation.
- Oregon. Effective January 1, 2019, per House Bill 2005, employers cannot screen job applicants based on current or past compensation (wages, salary, bonuses, fringe benefits and equity-based compensation), or determine compensation for a position based on current or past compensation for a prospective employee (except in the case of an internal transfer).
- Philadelphia. Effective May 23, 2017, Philadelphia Code 9-1131 prohibits employers from relying on an applicant’s salary history when setting salaries. While the law attempted to make inquiries into wage history unlawful, when challenged, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ordered that while employers cannot be prohibited from asking an applicant’s wage history, they can still prohibit reliance on salary history.
- Puerto Rico. Effective March 8, 2018, per Puerto Rico Act No. 16-2017, employers may not ask an applicant or former employer of the current salary or wage history of the applicant.
- San Francisco. Effective July 1, 2018, per the Consideration of Salary History Ordinance (also known as the Parity in Pay Ordinance), employers cannot consider the current or past salary of an applicant in determining whether to hire an applicant, and at what salary. In addition, employers must post a salary history poster at the workplace.
- Vermont. Effective July 1, 2018, per H294, employers cannot inquire or seek information regarding a prospective employee’s current or past compensation.
Keep in mind the above is just a quick overview; if any one of these applies to your business, you should familiarize yourself with the actual applicable law (most linked above). I suspect that the equal pay laws above are the start of a growing trend, and that if no federal law is passed in the next few years, state and local laws will continue. Until then, employers with locations in multiple states need to be sure to keep current on pending legislation and ordinances.