California Clarifies Law Prohibiting Employers from Asking Job Applicants about Salary History

Three applicants with question marks.

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On July 18, 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law legislation, Assembly Bill 2282 (AB 2282), to clarify the state’s existing law – AB 168, which was signed into law in October 2017 – that prohibits inquiries by employers into the salary history information of job applicants. AB 2282 takes effect on January 1, 2019.

Existing law prohibits employers from relying on salary history information of applicants for employment as a factor in determining whether to offer an applicant employment or what salary to offer an applicant. Existing law also requires employers, upon reasonable request, to provide the pay scale for a position to an applicant.

Introduced by Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton), AB 2282 clarifies definitions for “pay scale,” “reasonable request,” and “applicant” for purposes of these provisions and specifies that these provisions do not prohibit an employer from asking about an applicant for employment’s salary expectation.

  • The term “pay scale” means a salary or hourly wage range.
  • The term “reasonable request” means a request made after an applicant has completed an initial interview with the employer.
  • The term “applicant” means an individual who is seeking employment with the employer and is not currently employed with that employer in any capacity or position.

AB 2282 also clarified aspects of the California Equal Pay Act as employers shall not pay any employees at wage rates less than the rates paid to employees of the opposite sex for substantially similar work, except where the employer demonstrates the wage differential is based upon one or more of the following factors:

  • A seniority system.
  • A merit system.
  • A system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production.
  • A bona fide factor other than sex, such as education, training, or experience.

In October 2017, ESR News reported Governor Brown signed several pieces of legislation to improve services and support for women that included AB 168, which bans employers from seeking salary history information about applicants and requires them to provide applicants the pay scale for a job upon reasonable request.

A 2013 study from the American Association of University Women found women get paid 6.6 percent less than men in their first jobs. When it comes to subsequent jobs, employers often inquire about a candidate’s salary history as a basis for establishing their new salary, which worsens gender pay inequality over time.

In 2015, women earned 80 percent of what men earned, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The gender wage gap has narrowed by less than one-half a penny per year in the United States since 1963, according to the National Committee on Pay Equity, when Congress passed the Equal Pay Act of 1963.

States, counties, and cities have passed laws prohibiting employers from seeking salary history as part of a growing equal pay movement to narrow the gender wage gap between women and men. This is one of the “ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends” for 2018 selected by Employment Screening Resources® (ESR).

“When employers have a background screening firm perform past employment verifications, it is critical that the screening firm have the knowledge about states, counties, and cities that prohibit salary history questions and software that helps facilities compliance,” explained ESR founder and CEO Attorney Lester Rosen.

More ESR News Blogs about Bans on Salary History Questions

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check provider – performs primary source verification of current and previous employment that takes into account laws banning salary history questions by employers. To learn more about screening solutions from ESR, please visit www.esrcheck.com.

California, California Background checks, discrimination, Employment Verification, Equal Pay, pay equity, salary history, SHM 2, SHM 6, State laws, wage equity

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