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Salary Talk
Is It Really Illegal for Your Employer to Ask Your Salary History? In These Cases, Yes
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AnnaMarie Houlis
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Journalist & travel blogger
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What is the salary history ban, and what should employers know about it before interviewing new candidates for a job opening? Here's everything you need to know.

What is the reason behind the salary history ban?

Salary history bans are intended to address gender pay inequality.  It's illegal to pay men and women differently for the same work and, while there's still a significant pay gap, the salary history ban is designed to lessen the gap. When employers don't know what women (as well as other minorities) were paid in their past jobs or are paid in their current jobs, they can make a fairer offer.

What does the salary ban entail?

The salary ban entails several components, depending on the law. That said, it boils down to that some states and localities prohibit employers from asking about salary.

What is the transparency around the salary ban?

Transparency in pay refers not to being expected to share your current pay or salary history with a prospective employer but, rather, the act of companies adopting full transparency policies so each employee knows what their colleagues make. This is another tool to close the gender pay gap, as women still earn 79% of what their male colleagues make.

What other existing salary history bans are there?

State and local governments are increasingly adopting laws and regulations that prohibit employers from requesting salary history information from job applicants.

The laws are aimed at ending the cycle of pay discrimination and some go further than merely banning pay history questions. A few also prohibit an employer from relying on an applicant's pay history to set compensation if discovered or volunteered; others prohibit an employer from taking disciplinary action against employees who discuss pay with coworkers.

Here, we track the states, cities and other jurisdictions that have passed such bans, and offer a brief description of each law's requirements, its effective date and a link to the original law.

1. Alabama

  • Employers may not refuse to hire, interview, promote or employ a candidate for saying no to providing their pay history.
  • Effective Date: Sept. 1, 2019
  • Employers Affected: All employers
  • View the law

2. California

  • Both private and public employers are prohibited from asking about applicants' salary histories
  • Effective Date: Jan. 1, 2018
  • Employers Affected: All employers, including state and local government employers and the legislature
  • View the law
  • View amendments

3. San Francisco, California

  • Employers are prohibited from asking about applicants' salary histories
  • Effective Date: July 1, 2018
  • Employers Affected: All employers, including city contractors and subcontractors
  • View the law

4. Colorado

  • Employers are prohibited from asking about applicants' salary histories
  • Effective Date: Jan. 1, 2021
  • Employers Affected: All employers, including the state and any political subdivision, commission, department, institution or school district thereof.
  • View the law

5. Connecticut

  • Employers are prohibited from asking about applicants' salary histories
  • Effective Date: Jan. 1, 2019
  • Employers Affected: 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
  • View the law

6. Delaware

  • Employers are prohibited from asking about applicants' salary histories.
  • Effective Date: Dec. 14, 2017
  • Employers Affected: All employers, or an employer's agent
  • View the law

7. Atlanta, Georgia

  • Employers are prohibited from asking about applicants' salary histories
  • Effective Date: Feb. 18, 2019
  • Employers Affected: City agencies
  • View the announcement

8. Hawaii

  • Employers are prohibited from asking about applicants' salary histories
  • Effective Date: Jan. 1, 2019
  • Employers Affected: All employers, employment agencies and employees or agents thereof
  • View the law

9. Illinois

  • Employers cannot request salary history information.
  • Effective Date: Sept. 29, 2019
  • Employers Affected: All employers
  • View the law

10. Chicago, Illinois

  • City departments cannot request salary history information.
  • Effective Date: April 10, 2018
  • Employers Affected: City departments
  • City departments may not ask for applicants' salary histories.
  • View the order

11. Louisville, Kentucky

  • City agents cannot request salary history information.
  • Effective Date: May 17, 2018
  • Employers Affected: The Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Government or any department, agency or office thereof unless specifically excluded in the law
  • View the law

12. New Orleans, Louisiana

  • City agents cannot request salary history information.
  • Effective Date: Jan. 25, 2017
  • Employers Affected: City departments
  • View the order


  • The city cannot request salary history information.
  • Effective Date: Oct. 1, 2019
  • Employers Affected: The city
  • View the law

13. Maine

  • Employers cannot request salary history information until after a job offer has been negotiated.
  • Effective Date: Sept. 17, 2019
  • Employers Affected: All employers.
  • View the law

14. Montgomery County, Maryland

  • The county cannot request salary history information.
  • Effective Date: Aug. 14, 2019
  • Employers Affected: The Montgomery County government
  • View the law

15. Massachusetts

  • Employers cannot request salary history information.
  • Effective Date: July 1, 2018
  • Employers Affected: All employers, including state and municipal employers.
  • View the law

16. Michigan

  • Local governments may not regulate the information that employers must request or require, but Michigan has prohibited the salary history ban in the state.
  • Effective Date: June 24, 2018
  • Employers Affected: None
  • View the law


  • Departments may not ask about pay history.
  • Effective Date: Jan. 8, 2019
  • Employers Affected: State departments and certain autonomous agencies
  • View the directive

17. Jackson, Mississippi

  • City employers may not ask about pay history.
  • Effective Date: June 13, 2019
  • Employers Affected: The city
  • View the law

18. Kansas City, Missouri

  • The city may not ask for pay history until after the employee has been hired at an agreed-upon salary.
  • Effective Date: July 26, 2018
  • Employers Affected: The city
  • View the law


  • Employers may not ask for pay history.
  • Effective Date: Oct. 31, 2019
  • Employers Affected: All employers employing six or more employees
  • View the law

19. New Jersey

  • New Jersey agencies and offices may not ask for pay history.
  • Effective Date: Feb. 1, 2018
  • Employers Affected: State entities
  • View the order


  • Employers may not ask for pay history. If that information is voluntarily disclosed, an employer may verify the applicant's pay history and consider it in determining the applicant's salary, benefits and other compensation.
  • Effective Date: Jan. 1, 2020
  • Employers Affected: All employers
  • View the law

20. New York

  • Effective Date: Jan. 9, 2017
  • State agencies and departments  may not ask for pay history until after an offer of employment is extended.
  • Employers Affected: All agencies and departments over which the governor has executive authority, and all public benefit corporations, public authorities, boards and commission for which the governor appoints the chair, the chief executive or the majority of board members, except for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
  • View the law


  • Employers may not ask for pay history.
  • Effective Date: Jan. 6, 2020
  • Employers Affected: All employers
  • View the law

21. New York City, New York

  • Employers may not ask for pay history.
  • Effective Date: Oct. 31, 2017
  • Employers Affected: All employers, employment agencies or employees or agents thereof
  • View the law

22. Albany County, New York

  • Employers may not ask for pay history until after an offer is made.
  • Effective Date: Dec. 17, 2017
  • Employers Affected: All employers and employment agencies
  • View the law

23. Suffolk County, New York

  • Employers may not ask for pay history, nor conduct searches of publicly available records.
  • Effective Date: June 30, 2019
  • Employers Affected: Employers and employment agencies
  • View the law

24. Westchester County, New York

  • Employers may not ask for pay history.
  • Effective Date: July 9, 2018
  • Employers Affected: Employers, labor organizations, employment agencies or licensing agencies, or an employee or agent thereof
  • View the law

25. North Carolina

  • State agencies may not ask for pay history.
  • Effective Date: April 2, 2019
  • Employers Affected: State agencies
  • View the order

26. Cincinnati, Ohio

  • Employers may not ask for pay history.
  • Effective Date: March 2020 (estimated)
  • Employers Affected: Employers with 15 or more employees located within the city, including job placement and referral agencies. State and local governments are excluded, with the exception of the City of Cincinnati.
  • View the law

27. Toledo, Ohio

  • Employers may not ask for pay history.
  • Effective Date: June 25, 2020
  • Employers Affected: All employers located within the city that employ 15 or more employees, including referral and employment agencies, as well as the city.
  • View the law

28. Oregon

  • Employers may not ask about an applicants' pay history until after an offer of employment is extended.
  • Effective Date: Oct. 6, 2017
  • Employers Affected: Any person employing one or more employees, including the state 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
  • View the law

29. Pennsylvania

  • State agencies may not ask for salary history, and all job postings must clearly disclose the position's pay scale and pay range.
  • Effective Date: Sept. 4, 2018 (estimated)
  • Employers Affected: State agencies
  • View the law

30. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  • Philadelphia's salary history ban remains on hold while dealing with a legal challenge to the regulations.
  • Effective Date: TBD
  • Employers Affected: Any person who does business in the city through employees or who employs one or more employees exclusive of parents, spouse or children, including any public agency or authority; any agency, authority or instrumentality of the state; and the city, its department, boards and commissions
  • View the ordinance
  • View the regulations

31. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

  • Agencies and offices may not request applicants' pay history; if they discover it, they're prohibited from relying on that information, unless it's been volunteered.
  • Effective Date: Jan. 30, 2017
  • Employers Affected: The city or any division, department, agency or office thereof, unless specifically excluded in the law
  • View the law

32. Puerto Rico

  • Employers may not request applicants' pay history.
  • Effective Date: March 8, 2017
  • Employers Affected: All employers
  • View the law

33. Columbia, South Carolina

  • Employers may not request applicants' pay history, nor will they rely on pay history in the determination of wages unless an applicant knowingly and willingly discloses pay history.
  • Effective Date: Aug. 6, 2019
  • Employers Affected: The city
  • View the ordinance

34. Richland County, South Carolina

  • Employers may not request applicants' pay history.
  • Effective Date: May 23, 2019
  • Employers Affected: The county
  • View document

35. Vermont

  • Employers may not request applicants' pay history.
  • Effective Date: July 1, 2018
  • Employers Affected: All employers
  • View the law

36. Washington

  • Employers may not seek pay history, though they're allowed to confirm that information if the applicant voluntarily discloses it or if an offer has been extended. Plus, employers with 15 or more employees, upon request of the applicant who has been extended an offer, provide information about the minimum salary for the position for which the applicant is applying.
  • Effective Date: July 28, 2019
  • Employers Affected: All employers
  • View the law

37. Wisconsin

  • Local governments may not prohibit employers from soliciting the salary history of prospective employees.
  • Effective Date: April 18, 2018
  • Employers Affected: None
  • View the law

FAQs

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions on the salary-history question ban.

In what states is it illegal to ask for salary history?

It's illegal to ask for salary history in several states including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Oregon and Vermont, which all have some form of ban for private employers. Localities with these bans include Cincinnati (which will start in 2020), New York City, Philadelphia (pending a current legal challenge), Puerto Rico and San Francisco, as well as multiple counties in New York. Some states and localities also ban salary-history questions from public employers only.

Is it illegal to ask salary history?

In some states and localities, it is indeed illegal to ask salary history in a job interview or when considering or hiring a candidate.

Are employers allowed to ask your current salary?

In some states and localities, employers are not allowed to ask your current salary in a job interview or while considering or hiring your for a job opening.

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.

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