Atlanta Removes Salary History Question from City Job Applications to Close Gender Pay Gap

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On February 18, 2019, the City of Atlanta, Georgia removed the salary history question on employment applications for City jobs in an effort to ensure fair hiring practices, close the gender pay gap, and prevent wage discrimination, according to a press release on the City of Atlanta’s website.

Atlanta Removes Salary History Question

“The City of Atlanta has taken a critical step toward the elimination of pay discrimination by removing salary history questions on employment applications,” Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said. “Too often, salary history can trap employees in an unfair earnings cycle based on history rather than their skill set.”

The ban of salary history questions from verbal interviews, employment screenings, and City job applications – which are already updated in print and online – builds upon Atlanta’s decision to “Ban the Box” in 2014 and not require applicants with criminal records to disclose that information on applications.

Statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau show women earned 80 percent of what men earned in 2015 and this gender pay gap has narrowed by less than one-half a penny per year in the U.S. since the Equal Pay Act (EPA) was passed by Congress in 1963, according to the National Committee on Pay Equity.

The gender pay gap is even more disparate for women of color as black women earned 62 cents for every dollar their white male counterpart earned while Latina women earned 53 cents for every dollar – or 47 percent less – than their white male counterpart earned, according to the press release.

Salary history bans exist in the cities of Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, Louisville, New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco, and states such as California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

Laws prohibiting employers from seeking salary history information about applicants will increase as the equal pay movement to narrow the gender wage gap spreads and was chosen by background check firm Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) as one of the “ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends” in 2019.

Laws prohibiting salary history questions are spreading. In January 2019 – during his first full day in office – Illinois Governor Jay Robert “J.B.” Pritzker signed a package of legislation and executive orders that included a ban on asking applicants for state jobs about their salary history to ensure pay equity.

In 2018, salary history bans passed included Suffolk County, New York’s Restrict Information Regarding Salary and Earnings (RISE) Act, Hawaii Senate Bill 2351, California Assembly Bill 2282, Kansas City, Missouri removing the salary history question from applications, and the New Jersey Equal Pay Act.

“If new pay is based on previous pay, then gender pay gaps are perpetuated. The goal of such laws is to base compensation on the work performed and not on reliance on previous pay that may reflect gender discrimination,” according to ESR founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Attorney Lester Rosen.

“When an employer has a background screening firm perform past employment verifications, it is critical that firm knows which states and cities prohibit such questions as well as software that facilitates compliance or else that employer could be fined,” explained Rosen, author of “The Safe Hiring Manual.”

ESR Employment Verifications Comply with Salary History Laws

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check firm – offers employment verifications that provide the applicant’s rate of pay only if permissible under state and local salary history laws. 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.

© 2019 Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – Making copies or using of any part of the ESR News Blog or ESR website for any purpose other than your own personal use is prohibited unless written authorization is first obtained from ESR.


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