NYC Bill To Ban Employers from Asking Potential Employees About Salary History

What positive effect could banning employer inquiries as to salary histories have on employees citywide?

A New York City bill has proposed preventing private employers in the city from questioning employees about their salary histories.  The bill, number 1253, was approved by the New York City Council on April 5.  It now awaits approval by Mayor Bill de Blasio.  Several other states and cities have taken similar measures to prohibit employers from inquiring about a job applicant’s previous salary.  Our NYC employment litigation lawyers at Thomas M. Lancia PLLC are closely watching the legislative course of this important employment bill.  We encourage any employee or employer with questions about local, state, or federal employment laws to contact our office.

Attempting to Narrow the Wage Gap

In the United States, there continues to exist a gender pay gap.  This gap is the difference between women’s and men’s average earnings for full-time employees.  As of 2016, female workers made just 87 cents for every dollar earned by men, translating to a gender pay gap of 13 percent.  Women earn, on average, less than men in nearly every occupation.  The gender gap is even higher in middle-skill occupations, and women of color tend to suffer even further.

Leaders across America are taking note of the troubling, ongoing gender pay gap and attempting to correct it.  NYC’s proposed ban on employer’s asking about previous job salaries is intended to narrow the wage gap among female and male employees, as well as employees of different races.  The thought is this—employers who ask about prior wages can use this employment history to perpetuate existing wage disparities.  Employers will often pay new employees’ wages based on what they used to earn, thus continuing the cycle of female employees earning less.

Despite some strong opponents of the bill, others question whether it will have much of an effect in practice.  Some do not feel the inability to inquire into job histories will translate to employees earning more.  Without job salaries to guide them, employers may look at factors like the individual aggressiveness of applicants.  Even with the detractors, many feel this NYC bill will have a much needed positive impact on women and minorities, who have been underpaid in the city and nationwide for decades.