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    Compliance Overview: New York State Bans Salary History Inquiries

    By Barrow Group Staff / August 20, 2019





    • - A new law prohibits New York employers from asking about job applicants’ past salary or wages.
    • - The law bans both oral and written requests for pay history information.
    • - Employers may not use past salary or wage information as the basis for employment decisions.
    • - Violations may result in lawsuits.


    • - July 10, 2019 - NYS enacted a law that bans employers from asking about or using salary or wage history for employment decisions.
    • - January 10, 2020 - The new ban on inquiries about and use of an individual’s pay history becomes effective.


    On July 10, 2019, New York State (NYS) enacted a new law that prohibits all employers in the state from asking job applicants and employees about their past salaries or wages. Effective Jan. 10, 2020, the law also prohibits employers from seeking this type of information from other sources, such as an individual’s current or former employer, unless:

    • - An offer of employment for a specified compensation amount has been made to the individual; and
    • - The individual responded to the offer by providing prior pay information to support a higher compensation amount.

    However, even if an individual voluntarily (and without prompting) provides his or her past pay information before an offer is made, employers may not rely on that information for any employment-related decisions affecting that individual.

    action steps

    • Employers in NYS should become familiar with the new law and adjust their interviewing and hiring procedures as necessary to ensure compliance. 

    Covered Employers

    All employers in NYS must comply with the new prohibitions, effective Jan. 10, 2020. The law specifies that the term “employer” includes, but is not limited to, the following and their agents:

    • Every person, corporation, limited liability company (LLC), association, labor organization or entity that employs any individual in any occupation, industry, trade, business or service;
    • The state, the state’s political subdivisions and every other governmental entity; and
    • Every person, corporation, LLC, association or entity that connects applicants with employers.


    Prohibited Actions  

    As of Jan. 10, 2020, the law prohibits employers from:

    • - Relying on an applicant’s wage or salary history in determining whether to offer a job to the applicant or how much to pay him or her;
    • - Seeking, requesting or requiring wage or salary history from an applicant or employee as a condition of employment or consideration for employment;
    • - Retaliating against or refusing to interview, hire, promote or otherwise employ an individual based on his or her past wage or salary or because he or she has either refused to provide past wage or salary information or filed a complaint with the NYS Department of Labor against the employer; and
    • - Except under specific circumstances, seeking, requesting or requiring an applicant or employee’s wage or salary history from his or her current or former employer (or its employees or agents).


    Confirmation Exception

    An employer may confirm an individual’s wage or salary history only if, at the time an offer of employment with compensation is made, the individual responds to the offer by providing prior wage or salary information to support a wage or salary higher than the amount offered by the employer.


    Individuals who believe an employer has violated the new law may file a civil lawsuit against the employer. If a court finds that an employer has violated the law, it may order the employer to pay the plaintiff’s actual damages and reasonable attorney’s fees.

    Topics: temporary staffing, staffing, PEO, human resources, compliance

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