Suffolk County in New York Approves Ban on Salary History Questions by Employers to Job Applicants

Job Applicants with Question Marks

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

The Suffolk County, New York legislature has approved the Restrict Information Regarding Salary and Earnings Act (“RISE” Act) that will ban questions by employers about the salary history of job applicants in order to narrow the gender pay gap that exists between men and women in the county.

The RISE Act – which takes effect June 30, 2019 – will amend Chapter 528 of the Suffolk County Human Rights Law that applies to employers with four or more employees and make it an unfair discriminatory practice in employment for an employer, employment agency, or an employee or agent of the same, to:

  • Inquire, whether in any form of application or otherwise, about a job applicant’s wage or salary history, including but not limited to, compensation and benefits. For purposes of this subdivision, “to inquire” means to ask an applicant or former employer orally, or in writing or otherwise or to conduct a search of publicly available records or reports.
  • Rely on the salary history of an applicant for employment in determining the wage or salary amount for such applicant at any stage in the employment process, including at offer or contract.

The RISE Act will not apply to actions taken by employers or employment agencies for federal, state, or local laws that require the disclosure or verification of salary for employment purposes. The Act also will not apply to the exercise of any right of an employer or employee to a collective bargaining agreement.

According to figures in the “Legislative Intent” section of the RISE Act, a report issued in April 2018 by the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) found that women in Suffolk County earn 78.1 percent of what their male counterparts earn compared to the State-wide percentage of 86.8 percent.

Suffolk County joins other counties in New York that ban salary history questions. Westchester County enacted the Wage History Anti-Discrimination Law to ban employers from asking about the salary history of applicants on applications or during interviews. That law took effect on July 9, 2018.

In April of 2017, the New York City Council passed legislation to prohibit employers from inquiring about the salary history of job applicants during the hiring process. Under the legislation, “salary history” included the job applicant’s current or prior wage, benefits, or other compensation.

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

In October 2018, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – the agency that enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination – announced that Denton County in Texas will pay $115,000 to a female former county doctor after a federal court ruled in favor of the EEOC in a lawsuit.

Cities and states in the U.S. have passed laws prohibiting salary history questions by employers about job applicants as part of an equal pay movement to narrow the gender wage gap. 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 knows about where salary history questions are prohibited,” explains Attorney Lester Rosen, ESR founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), and author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual.’

ESR Past Employment Verifications Comply with Salary History Laws

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – leading global background check firm – performs primary source verification of past employment that provides position, start and end dates, and the rate of pay if permissible. To learn more, visit www.esrcheck.com/Background-Checks/Verifications-References/.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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