Equal Pay Update: Are Salary History Questions Illegal?

Lawmakers nationwide are looking to make salary history questions, well, history.

Ever since the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963, it has been unlawful in the United States for businesses to pay men and women different wages due to their sex. Even with that landmark law, disparities persist—last year, women earned only 80 cents for every dollar earned by men. The gap is even greater when the wages of minority women and white men are compared.

Partly inspired by the “ban the box” movement, which curbs job recruiters’ access to criminal history, legislators are tackling pay disparities early on in the employee lifecycle: the job interview. Believing that asking for salary history only perpetuates past disparities, equal pay advocates are looking to stomp out the question entirely.

Below you’ll find a break down of what states and cities have taken a stand for those on the wrong side of the pay gap.

State Laws

State Effective Date Description
Businesses cannot ask about salary history. Even if a candidate volunteers this information, it can’t play a part in determining compensation.

Salary history is off-limits during the interview process, but can be asked for after a conditional offer of employment.

While employers cannot ask for salary history during the interview process, they may consider it if the candidate volunteers that information.

Cities in the state of Michigan are forbidden from enacting salary history bans.

New Jersey

State agencies are forbidden from asking candidates for their salary history.

New York

State agencies cannot ask for salary history until extending a conditional offer of employment. If that information is volunteered, it can’t be considered.


Employers cannot ask about salary history until after a conditional offer of employment. Prior compensation can only be used to determine pay when an existing employee is changing jobs within the company.


Employers cannot ask job candidates to share their salary history, use salary history to determine interview eligibility, or require a candidate’s past salary meet specific standards.

City and County Ordinances

Locality Effective Date Description
Albany County, NY

Employers cannot ask for a job applicant’s salary history until extending a conditional offer of employment.
New Orleans, LA

City agencies and offices cannot ask for salary history.

New York City, NY

Businesses cannot ask about prior salary or benefits. If that information is volunteered, it can’t be used to determine pay.
Pittsburgh, PA

City offices cannot ask for or consider prior compensation unless the applicant volunteers that information.

San Francisco, CA


Employers are forbidden from asking for or considering a job applicant’s salary history. Additionally, businesses cannot provide a current employee’s pay information to a third party without his or her consent.

*Information accurate as of April 2018

Salary history bans represent just a small part of what HR and compliance teams need to be mindful of. Once you’ve mastered recruiting rules, the next major hurdle in the employee life cycle is onboarding.

From confirming that a new hire is actually authorized to work in the U.S., to getting him or her set up in payroll, “day one” poses its own unique challenges. We’ve put together everything you need to successfully onboard employees in our free Employee Onboarding Toolkit.

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