Brian J. Turoff and David A. Katz
April 18, 2017
In November 2016, New York City enacted legislation prohibiting City agencies from inquiring into job applicants' salary history. On April 5, 2017, the New York City Council expanded the above-noted protections, overwhelmingly passing a bill prohibiting nearly all employers – including private sector employers – from inquiring into applicants' salary history. Reasoning that basing a salary offer on a prospective employee's prior salary can perpetuate unwarranted earnings imbalances between male and female employees, the new legislation seeks to combat systemic, gender-based wage disparities. If signed by Mayor de Blasio – which is widely expected – the law will go into effect six months from the date of signing.
In complying with this expected new law, employers must be mindful of the distinction between prohibited inquiries and permissible avenues of salary discussion. Specifically, employers would still be permitted to set forth a proposed salary for a given position and discuss that proposal with a prospective employee. Employers would also be permitted to inquire as to what a prospective employee hopes to earn should he or she receive a job offer. Finally, should an applicant voluntarily disclose his or her prior salary without any prompting or coercion, an employer may take this information into account in subsequent salary discussions. Notably, with limited exceptions, the anticipated new law also prohibits nearly all discussion of an applicant's prior benefits and other forms of compensation.
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