On April 5, 2017, the New York City Council approved a bill prohibiting private employers
from (i) inquiring into an applicant's current or previous
salary with another employer or (ii) relying on an applicant's
salary history to make any compensation determinations during the
hiring process. Employers also cannot search publicly available
records or ask the applicant's former employer for compensation
information. Importantly, the law defines "salary"
broadly as including salary, benefits and other compensation.
Notably, if an applicant "voluntarily and without
prompting" chooses to reveal his or her salary history, an
employer may consider this information in determining compensation.
Employers also may announce in a job listing or elsewhere the
salary or salary range for the position. Further, the law does not
apply to internal applicants for transfer or promotion, and thus
makes clear that an employer is permitted to consider a current
employee's salary in making these decisions.
The law specifically authorizes prospective employers to ask
applicants about their expectations with respect to compensation
and benefits, including any unvested equity or deferred
compensation that an applicant would forfeit by leaving his or her
current employer. Moreover, the law does not affect employers'
ability to conduct background checks, provided they do not seek
compensation information from former employers or otherwise.
While Mayor Bill de Blasio has yet to sign the bill, he is
expected to do so shortly. This will trigger the 180-day clock on
the law's implementation, and employers should see the law go
into effect in October 2017. Once enacted, the law will be enforced
by the New York City Human Rights Commission.
New York City is not the first jurisdiction to enact these
restrictions, and it will not be the last. Similar laws are already
on the books in Massachusetts (effective July 2018) and
Philadelphia (effective May 2017). Additionally, more than 20 other
cities and states have proposed similar legislation. Given this
trend, employers that have employees outside New York City need to
regularly monitor developments in other jurisdictions.
To comply with the new law, New York City employers should
implement the following:
Update employment applications to ensure questions regarding
salary history are removed from all hiring documentation.
Train recruiters and hiring managers to abstain from inquiring
into an applicant's historical compensation or benefits.
Ensure that background checks do not seek information regarding
Consider whether to implement a procedure to inquire about
applicants' compensation expectations as a standard part of the
Companies operating in multiple jurisdictions should consider
whether to enact companywide policies preventing salary history
inquiries during the hiring process, which would need to ensure
compliance with the expanding universe of laws addressing such
issues and their sometimes divergent requirements, or whether such
restrictions should instead be implemented on a
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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