New York, NY – New York City today became the first municipality in the nation to enforce a law prohibiting all employers in New York City from inquiring about job seekers’ salary history during the hiring process, including on job applications and in interviews.
By removing questions about an applicant’s previous earnings, the law allows applicants who have been systemically underpaid, particularly women and people of color, to negotiate a salary based on their qualifications and earning potential rather than being measured by their previous salary.
Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the bill into law in May.
First Lady Chirlane McCray, Public Advocate Letitia James, Human Rights Commissioner Carmelyn P. Malalis and other key NYC leaders held a rally today at City Hall to celebrate the law going into effect.
“New York City is taking a decisive step forward in the fight for equal pay. This new law will help to end the cycles of structural racism and sexism that have held women and people of color back for too long, and create a fairer City for all New Yorkers,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“Today, we say goodbye to the much-dreaded question that forces too many women and people of color to continue working at an unfairly low wage, job after job. Beginning today, employers in New York City who ask job applicants to share their salary history are breaking the law. And NYC will hold them accountable; because people should be paid based on the skills and qualifications they bring to a job, not the size of their last paycheck,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray, Co-Chair of the Commission on Gender Equity.
The law, which will be enforced by the NYC Commission on Human Rights, makes it illegal for both public and private employers in New York City to inquire about a job applicant’s salary history during the hiring process, including:
• Asking applicants questions about or soliciting information in any way about applicants’ current or prior earnings or benefits, including on job applications.
• Asking applicants’ current or former employers or their employees about applicants’ current or prior earnings or benefits.
• Searching public records to learn about applicants’ current or prior earnings or benefits.
• Relying on information about applicants’ current or prior earnings or benefits to set their compensation.
The new law, which was passed by New York City Council in April 5, 2017 and signed into law by Mayor de Blasio on May 4, 2017, protects applicants applying for full-time, part-time, and internship positions as well as independent contractors. It does not, however, prohibit job seekers from voluntarily informing employers of their previous salary, nor does it prohibit employers from asking applicants about their salary expectations or providing a salary range for a job.
To help businesses and job seekers understand the new law, the NYC Commission on Human Rights launched a four-week digital ad campaign last week targeting self-identified human resources professionals and job seekers on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google, and City & State, and those who have expressed interested in online job boards such as Indeed, Glassdoor, Monster, Career Builder, and Simply Hired, among others. The Commission will also launch a poster campaign on the new law in the weeks ahead targeting neighborhood storefronts in the five boroughs.
Additionally, the Commission issued two fact sheets, one for employers and one for job applicants, providing details on the new salary history law as well as Frequently Asked Questions gathered from discussions with business advocates and representatives of employers that answer questions for employers, such as the scope of coverage of the law, what employers can and cannot do to learn about an applicant’s salary expectations, how to handle agents and headhunters, how “compensation” is defined, and best practices.
The law, which follows an executive order by Mayor de Blasio issued last year that barred city agencies from inquiring about applicants’ salary history, amends the City’s Human Rights Law which is one of the strongest in the nation in protecting individuals from employment discrimination. Over the last two years, several new employment protections were added to the Law, including the “Fair Chance Act” which prohibits employers from asking applicants about their criminal history until after a conditional offer of employment, the “Stop Credit Discrimination in Employment Act” which protects New Yorkers from discrimination based on credit history, and protections for workers with caregiving responsibilities.
The NYC Commission on Human Rights has the authority to fine violators with civil penalties of up to $250,000 for willful and malicious violations of the Law and can award unlimited compensatory damages to victims, including emotional distress damages and other benefits. The Commission considers a variety of factors when assessing fines, including the size and sophistication of a business, the ability to pay, the willfulness of the violation, and the impact of a fine on a business. The Commission can also order trainings on the NYC Human Rights Law, changes to policies, and other relief including community service and mediated apologies.
If you or someone you know believes they are the victim of salary history discrimination or any other type of employment discrimination under the NYC Human Rights Law, call the Commission’s Infoline at 718-722-3131. Reports may also be filed anonymously and reported on the Commission’s web.