California Bans Employers from Seeking Salary History Information


By: Laura Flynn
California has joined a growing number of states and cities that ban employers from inquiring as to a job applicant’s salary history. Governor Brown recently signed California Labor Code section 432.3 into law. It becomes effective on January 1, 2018.  Studies have shown the wage gap between men and women is present regardless of industry, occupation or education level and the disparity is even larger for women of color.  Across the country, women still make roughly 80 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. Proponents of the new legislation believe closing the wage gap starts with barring employers from asking questions about salary history so that previous salary discrimination is not perpetuated.
The law prohibits an employer from relying on the salary history information of an applicant as a factor in determining whether to offer an applicant employment or what salary to offer an applicant. The law prohibits an employer, either personally or through an agent, from seeking salary history information and requires employers, upon reasonable request, to provide the pay scale for a position to an applicant. The law does not prevent applicants from voluntarily and without prompting disclosing salary history information to a prospective employer. When an applicant voluntarily discloses the information, an employer may consider or rely upon that information in determining the applicant’s salary. The bill applies to all employers, including state and local government employers. In light of the new law, California employers will want to revise their employment applications to remove requests for salary history; modify their screening and interview practices to eliminate questions about salary history; and train hiring personnel regarding what compensation questions are permissible, as well as how to respond to requests for pay scale information and voluntary disclosure of salary history by an applicant.
If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Laura Flynn at