Efforts to close the gender wage gap have been a top priority now that the Biden administration is in office. Individual counties, cities, and states across the country, however, have been hard at work over the last several years by passing salary history bans. 

Below we cover all of the states that have enacted state-wide salary history bans, in addition to related regulations aimed at combating the gender wage gap.

Alabama: Alabama signed the Clarke-Figures Equal Pay Act into law effective September 1, 2019. The law contains a salary history ban. It states: “An employer shall not refuse to interview, hire, promote, or employ an applicant for employment, or retaliate against an applicant for employment because the applicant does not provide wage history. Wage history means the wages paid to an applicant for employment by the applicant’s current or former employer.”

California: In addition to California’s SB 973, which went into 2020 and requires annual pay data submissions from employers, the state passed a salary history ban effective January 2018. The salary history ban, known as AB 2282, applies to all employers, including state and government employers, and prohibits the use of a job candidate’s salary history for determining new pay. This applies even if the employee offers it voluntarily. 

Colorado: The state of Colorado passed a salary history ban in May 2019 as part of its Equal Pay for Equal Work Act (EPEWA), and it went into effect in January of this year. The law prevents employers in the state from inquiring into the salary history of a job applicant. Additionally, they will not be able to retaliate against job candidates that do not disclose their previous salary earnings.

Connecticut: Issued in HB 5386, an act concerning pay equity, the state of Connecticut issued a law that “prohibits employees from disclosing or discussing the amount of his or her wages or the wages of another employee of such employer that have been disclosed voluntarily by such other employee.” The act applies to “any individual, corporation, limited liability company, firm, partnership, voluntary association, joint stock association, the state and any political subdivision thereof and any public corporation within the state” and went into effect January 2019.

Delaware: Delaware has one of the oldest salary history bans in the country. It went into effect December 2017 and applies to all employers. While employers cannot inquire into a candidate’s previous wages, they can confirm the information after extending an offer of employment.

District of Columbia: The D.C. salary history ban went into effect in November 2017 and currently only applies to agencies of the District’s government.

Hawaii: Hawaii enacted a state-wide salary history ban that went into effect January 1, 2019. The act states, “The legislature believes that the ability of employers to consider a job applicant’s previous salary history is a contributing factor to the gender pay disparity.” As such, the law applies to all employers in the state and prohibits the use of previous salary earnings for determining new pay for job applicants.

Illinois: The state of Illinois salary history ban went into effect on January 15, 2019, and prohibits state agencies from inquiring into prospective employees’ previous earnings. Effective September 29, 2019, the salary history ban expanded to all employers. Most recently, the state of Illinois enacted significant changes to its equal pay laws under SB 1480. Employers of the state will be required to submit pay data reporting by January 2023.

Maine: On April 12, 2019, Maine passed a law prohibiting all employers from inquiring into the salary history of job candidates. Once an offer has been made, employers can inquire into previous earnings. The law went into effect September 17, 2019.

Maryland: Before enacting a state-wide salary history ban, Maryland first passed a ban that only applied to Montgomery County. As of October 1, however, a state-wide ban was gone into effect and prohibits employers from inquiring into a candidate’s salary history for determining new pay. Wages can be confirmed following an offer of employment if the candidate volunteers the information. 

Massachusetts: As of July 2018, all Massachusetts employers are prohibited from requesting salary histories from prospective job candidates. The ban is a part of the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act (MEPA), which also encourages employees to conduct pay equity audits and offers litigation defense if they are conducted properly.

Michigan: Effective January 8, 2019, state departments and autonomous agencies are prohibited from “inquiring about a job applicant’s current or previous salaries unless and until the department or agency first makes a conditional offer of employment, including an explanation of proposed compensation.” Interestingly enough, however, the state does not allow local governments to regulate the information an employer may request in an application.

New Jersey: New Jersey initially enacted a salary history ban in February 2018, but it only applied to state entities. As of January 1, 2020, the ban applies to all employers and “prohibits employer inquiries about worker’s wage and salary experience.” In addition, the law prohibits employers from requiring applicants’ previous salaries to satisfy any minimum or maximum amount. Employers found to be in violation of the salary history ban could be fined upwards of $10,000.

New York: New York’s salary history ban went into effect in 2017 and prohibits employers operating within the state from inquiring about job applicants’ previous salary earnings and compensation during the hiring process. As of January 2020, the law was expanded to apply to all employers.

North Carolina: The state of North Carolina passed a state-wide salary history ban on April 2, 2019. The law applies to state agencies and prohibits inquiring into prospective employees’ previous earnings.

Oregon: Oregon’s state-wide salary history ban went into effect October 2017 as part of the state’s Equal Pay Act (OEPA). The law applies to “any person employing one or more employees, including the State of Oregon or any political subdivision thereof or any county, city, district, authority, public corporation or entity and any of their instrumentalities organized and existing under law or charter.” The OEPA also requires equal pay for work of comparable character.

Pennsylvania: Effective September 2018, state agencies are prohibited from inquiring about a job applicant’s current salary or previous salary earnings. In addition, all job listings must clearly state the pay range available.

Puerto Rico: The commonwealth of Puerto Rico enacted a salary history ban that went into effect March 2017. The ban applies to all employers but does make exceptions for job applicants who voluntarily disclose salary information.

Vermont: Like many other states, Vermont passed a salary history ban that took effect in July 2018 and it applies to all state employers.

Virginia: Following exactly one year after Vermont, the state of Virginia enacted a state-wide salary history ban that went into effect July 2019. The ban, however, only applies to state agencies

Washington: On April 25, 2019, a statewide law was passed preventing all employers from inquiring into a candidate’s pay history. Employers with 15 or more employees must provide the minimum salary for the position for which the candidate is applying for. Employers may note salary history if the candidate voluntarily discloses it or an offer is extended. The law went into effect on July 28, 2019.

A total of 21 state-wide bans, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have been enacted. Individual cities and counties too have enacted salary history bans. You can read more about the local salary history bans and upcoming bans by visiting HR Dive’s counter.

Past salaries can often influence what an organization may pay in wages when hiring someone, which can affect job compensation over the long term. The idea behind salary history bans is that they help close the gender and racial pay gap by preventing employers from perpetuating low salaries. 

Local and federal governments, individuals, and employers all have a part to play in closing the gender wage gap and salary history bans are a step towards achieving that. With the focus shifting towards creating genuine change in the workplace, employers can help facilitate a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive workforce by undergoing a pay equity audit. Download Designing a Successful Pay Equity Policy for Your Organization to learn what steps to take when engaging in a pay equity audit and how it can benefit your organization.