Vermont Salary History Ban Coming Soon For Private Employers

Vermont Salary Ban Coming SoonAlthough opinions differ as to the cause, the wage gap between male and female workers persists even today – on average, women earn roughly 80% of what men earn over the course of a lifetime. Some equality advocates have argued that the common employer practice of using a new hire’s previous salary to determine their starting pay perpetuates the problem even if it doesn’t directly cause it, because it means that one sexist pay practice can affect a person’s salary through the course of their career.

In an attempt to promote pay equity, states and municipalities have recently begun passing laws which prohibit employers from requiring a new or prospective employee to provide information on their previous salary. During its 2018 legislative session, Vermont became the 6th state to restrict private and public employers from inquiring about a prospective employee’s salary history. (U.S. Territory Puerto Rico has also passed a salary history law, and other states have placed similar restrictions which only apply to state agencies.)

Vermont Salary History Ban

Vermont’s H 294, which comes into effect on July 1, 2018, prohibits an employer from inquiring about a prospective employee’s current or past compensation. “Compensation” is defined within the statute to include not only wages and salary, but also compensatory elements such as bonuses, benefits, fringe benefits and equity-based compensation.

Under the new law, employers are restricted from seeking information about past or current compensation from the prospective employee and/or their current or former employer. Employers are also restricted from requiring that a prospective employee’s current or past compensation satisfy a minimum or maximum criteria.

The bill specifies that the law does not restrict a prospective employee from voluntarily disclosing information about their past or current salary. If the prospective employee volunteers the information, the employer is allowed to confirm the information in order to verify its accuracy.  However, the employer can only seek confirmation after an offer of employment with compensation has been made to the prospective employee. Additionally, if the employer is aware of the prospective employee’s current or past compensation, the employer may not rely on that information to decide whether or not to interview the prospective employee.

The bill also specifies that the employer is not restricted from inquiring about a prospective employee’s salary expectations or requirements regarding the open position, or from providing information about the wages, benefits, or salary that are associated with the position that the prospective employee is seeking.

Employers operating within the state should ensure that job applicantions and interview processes are in compliance with the Vermont salary history ban before July 1, 2018.

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  1. It’s fascinating that by passing laws that keep employers from asking their employees about their previous salary, equality in pay will be more easily attained. This makes me wonder if people can sue if they are not receiving equal pay in the same position. Maybe there are attorneys who understand employment law that are willing to offer a consultation on this topic. I’ll have to look more into it.


    1. 21 VSA 495 provides that it is an unlawful employment practice “(a)(7) For any employer, employment agency, labor organization, or person seeking employees to discriminate between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees of one sex at a rate less than the rate paid to employees of the other sex for equal work that requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility and is performed under similar working conditions.”
      21 VSA 495b provides that “(b) Any person aggrieved by a violation of the provisions of this subchapter may bring an action in Superior Court seeking compensatory and punitive damages or equitable relief, including restraint of prohibited acts, restitution of wages or other benefits, reinstatement, costs, reasonable attorney’s fees, and other appropriate relief. (c) Any employer who violates the provisions of subdivision 495(a)(7) of this title shall be liable to any affected employee in the amount of the underpaid wages and an equal amount as liquidated damages, in addition to any other remedies available under this section.”


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