Previous Salary Requests: What Can Employers ask Candidates?

Businesswoman interviewing man in office

Salary is a sensitive subject on both sides of the new hire table.  However, a candidate’s past compensation is no longer just an elephant in the room. The simple question: “What was your previous salary?” is becoming illegal in cities and states across the country.

Where is it illegal to ask a candidate about past salary?

Currently, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia have laws in place that ban salary history requests.

New York City and Massachusetts recently passed legislation to take effect later this year and in 2018, respectively.

Similar proposals are presently under review in a number of states: Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Washington.

California law currently states employers cannot use prior salary alone to determine compensation. The state is also undergoing consideration to expand this law.

What does this change mean for hiring managers?

As a hiring manager, it is vital to monitor laws that dictate the interview process. Laws banning previous salary requests have the potential to govern over a fourth of the United States. Therefore, it is critical to check for updates on your state’s labor law website. The US Department of Labor lists each state’s site here.

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