New York City Employers Should Prepare for Salary History Ban Taking Effect on October 31

New York City’s new ban on inquiries concerning salary history will take effect on October 31, 2017.  According to the law signed by Mayor de Blasio this spring, it will be considered an unlawful discriminatory practice for any employer to inquire about the salary history of a job applicant or to use the applicant’s prior salary and/or benefits as a benchmark to negotiate compensation.

Impact on Employers
This new law applies to all public and private employers in New York City regardless of size. It prohibits direct and indirect inquiries about past salary and employee benefits, whether from former employers, publicly available sources, or the applicant directly.  This is part of a recent trend that includes similar laws passed in Delaware, Massachusetts, Oregon, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

The stated goal of the new law is to find more practical ways to ensure that women and people of color are paid at the same rate for the same work as their white male counterparts. The New York City council sponsors of the bill believe that banning inquiries on salary history will help to minimize the perpetuation of such pay differences when employees change jobs, and allow prospective employees greater leverage in salary negotiations.

Potential Violations
Violations could subject the employer to civil suit by the applicant seeking back pay, emotional distress, and compensatory damages.  The New York City Commission on Human Rights, the city agency charged with enforcing discrimination laws, also may bring an enforcement proceeding and may impose fines of up to $125,000 for inadvertent violations and up to $250,000 for willful violations.

What the New Law Does/Does Not Allow Employers to Do

How Employers Can Prepare
Employers hiring employees in New York City should:

For questions about the Salary History Ban and how best to prepare, contact:

Robert J. Tracy
Labor and Employment
(212) 705-9814