On March 13, 2019, Cincinnati passed an ordinance that bars employers from asking applicants for their salary history. The law is intended to address wage disparity for women and minorities. So far, at least 14 states and a dozen cities have passed salary history bans. These include California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York (state and city), North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Atlanta, Chicago, Louisville, Kansas City (MO), New Orleans, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco.
Cincinnati’s ordinance will take effect in one year and applies to employers located within the City of Cincinnati that have 15 or more employees within the City of Cincinnati.
Under the ordinance, employers:
- Cannot inquire about an applicant’s salary history or request reports or other information to determine salary history.
- Cannot rely on salary history to screen applicants, make hiring decisions or set compensation.
- May communicate the proposed salary or salary range.
- May, without inquiring about salary history, discuss salary expectations with the applicant.
- May seek prior information about productivity, such as sales or revenue reports.
- Must provide candidates with the pay scale for the position, upon request, if the candidate has been extended a conditional offer of employment.
Applicants will be able to sue employers directly under the ordinance, and can recover compensatory damages, reasonable attorney’s fees, costs and equitable relief for violations.
To prepare, Cincinnati employers should:
- Review job application forms and interview questions
- Modify the hiring process to ensure that salary information is not solicited from applicants who would be hired to perform work within the city.
- Train staff on how to handle salary negotiations and a candidate’s voluntary disclosure of salary history information.
- Be prepared to provide pay scale information to candidates after making an offer, if requested.
- Review how to word requests for productivity information.
Also, given the number of other states, counties, and cities that have passed or are considering similar bans, Cincinnati companies with operations and employees in other states and cities should review their hiring practices in those locations, and make appropriate changes.