New California Law Prohibits Asking About Salary History

On October 12, 2017, Governor Jerry Brown of California signed into law a state-wide ban on employer inquiries into an individual’s salary history. The new law, AB 168, prohibits employers from inquiring about an applicant’s past salary history. Employers are also prohibited from seeking past salary information when determining a proposed new-hire salary. Employers must also provide employee position pay scales when requested. Nevertheless, if an applicant voluntarily provides this information to an employer, the employer may rely on it when considering a potential salary to offer. The new law will apply to all employers, including state and local governments, and will take effect on January 1, 2018. The goal of the new bill is to narrow the gender wage gap between men and women. For example, women who are paid less the men may continue to suffer unequal pay if their new salary is based on their prior salary history. Employers should focus on an applicant’s qualifications and their internal pay scales when deciding which candidate is a good fit for a position. Employers should also view their job application forms to make sure they are not directly soliciting salary information.