Last Tuesday, October 31, 2017, New York became the first city in the nation to implement a law prohibiting all employers in New York City from inquiring about a prospective employee’s salary history during the employment process. The goal of the legislation is to encourage employers to set compensation based on qualifications and not past compensation. The New York City Commission on Human Rights recently released fact sheets that can help employers and employees understand the new law.
The fact sheets clarify that employers cannot ask questions or solicit information about current or prior earnings or benefits to both employees and prospective employees. Furthermore, employers are prohibited from searching public records for salary history information. If employers uncover such information accidentally, employers cannot rely on the information to make employment decisions. Only if the employee voluntarily discloses his or her salary information, can employers verify and consider current or prior earnings or benefits.
Employers are allowed to make statements about the anticipated salary, salary range, bonus, and benefits for a position and inquire about an applicant’s expectations or requirements for salary, benefits bonus or commission structure. Employers may also contact current or former employers to verify non-salary related information or conduct a background check. Finally, employers are allowed to ask prospective employees about objective indicators of work productivity like revenue, sales, production reports, profits generated, or books of business. Any employer violating the law will be required to pay damages, a fine, and/or be subject to additional affirmative relief such as mandated training and posting requirements.
To remain in compliance, employers must remove all salary history questions from job applications. Personnel performing job interviews must also be trained to exclude inquiries on salary history during their interviews. For more information, visit New York City’s Commission on Human Rights website here.