NYC Just Made it Illegal for Employers to Ask About Salary History

NYC Just Made it Illegal for Employers to Ask About Salary History
BartekSzewczyk

That space on a job application asking you about your past wages can be daunting.

Employers are basically judging you -- well, hinging the salary they’ll offer you -- on that info.

And one underpaying job can seriously throw your potential career earnings off track when future employers use your salary history to decide what they’ll pay you.

Say you jumped into a low-paying position because you’re right out of school and you were thrilled just to land a job in your field.

Or maybe you changed career paths and took a salary cut, because you thought you had to start at the bottom and pay your dues.

Just because you settled with a poor salary in the past doesn’t mean it should follow you throughout your whole career trajectory.

Workers in New York City will fortunately get a break from that bias.

Newsday’s amNewYork reports the city council passed a bill Wednesday (with a vote of 47-3) preventing new hires from having to disclose what they previously earned to public and private employers.

It’s a step in the right direction for fair wages -- although the law does not cover internal candidates applying for promotions or transfers or public employees whose salaries are based on collective bargaining agreements between management and trade unions.

Making job applicants disclose previous pay also perpetuates the gender wage gap. According to data from the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2016 women earned 82 cents for every dollar a man earned.

“Last year, my office released a report that found that women in New York were cheated out of $5.8 billion a year in lost wages,” public advocate Letitia James told Money, “and so when employees used previous salary information to determine compensation it perpetuates the gender wage gap by relying on salaries that reflect the wage discrimination and don’t reflect the prospective candidate.”

James, who works for the city as an intermediary between the government and constituents, proposed the legislation last August.

The city’s Commission on Human Rights will enforce the new law and can fine companies up to $250,000 if found in violation, according to amNewYork.

Last year, Massachusetts became the first state to sign a similar law, according to the New York Times.

It will be interesting to see if other cities or states also decide to ban wage history requirements.

Your Turn: Do you wish future employers wouldn’t ask you about salary history?

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.