Salary History Ban Goes Into Effect in New York State

Jan 28, 2020

On January 6, 2020, New York State put into effect a new law aimed at closing the gender wage gap. The salary history ban prohibits all employers from asking employees and applicants about previous salaries and compensation. It also prohibits them from seeking an applicant’s salary history from another source. While this is excellent practice for all prospective employees, it’s especially vital for women, who are most likely to have been underpaid in previous positions. On average, a woman makes 78 cents to a man’s dollar. Black women make just 64 cents to a white man’s dollar, and Latina women make only 56 cents. By banning employers from seeking out a prospective employee’s salary history, New York is preventing businesses from continuing to underpay women and people of color based on previous positions where they likely weren’t earning what their time was worth.

New York City was ahead of the curve, enacting its own city-wide salary history ban in 2017. Seventeen other states and several localities, including Alabama, California, and Pennsylvania, have enacted similar salary history bans. Unfortunately, Michigan and Wisconsin have specifically prohibited salary history bans, so no city or county in those states may enact their own legislation.

In an effort to increase transparency, many employers are beginning to include salary ranges in job postings. Doing so creates trust between companies and job seekers, and it ensures that expectations are the same before a hiring process begins. It’s another strategy that prevents women and people of color from being underpaid. An employer can’t lowball an applicant (and she’s much less likely to lowball herself) because a range has been publicly set. California actually requires employers to provide a salary range upon request.

Salary history bans and including salary ranges in job postings are two strong strategies for ensuring equity and attracting top talent. As the sponsor of the salary history ban bill, State Senator David Carlucci said, “This will be one of the greatest things that we can do to close the wage gap that currently exists in New York state.”