Mayor de Blasio Signs Law Prohibiting Salary Inquiries

On May 4, 2017, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed Introduction 1253-2016, a Local Law law that prohibits all NYC employers from inquiring about a prospective employee’s salary history. It takes effect 180 days after enactment.

The Mayor underscored the purpose of the law, namely, stamping out income inequality:

It is unacceptable that we’re still fighting for equal pay for equal work. The simple fact is that women and people of color are frequently paid less for the same work as their white, male counterparts[.] … This Administration has taken bold steps to combat the forces of inequality that hold people back, and this bill builds upon the progress we have made to close the pay gap and ensure everyone is treated with the respect they deserve.

The new Local Law amends the New York City Human Rights Law (N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-101 et seq.) by adding a new subdivision, 25, to N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-107.

The new language provides, inter alia:

Except as otherwise provided in this subdivision, it is an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer, employment agency, or employee or agent thereof:

1. To inquire about the salary history of an applicant for employment; or

2. To rely on the salary history of an applicant in determining the salary, benefits or other compensation for such applicant during the hiring process, including the negotiation of a contract.

While the law prohibits “inquiring” about salary history, it states that “an employer, employment agency, or employee or agent thereof may, without inquiring about salary history, engage in discussion with the applicant about their expectations with respect to salary, benefits and other compensation, including but not limited to unvested equity or deferred compensation that an applicant would forfeit or have cancelled by virtue of the applicant’s resignation from their current employer.”

Furthermore, “where an applicant voluntarily and without prompting discloses salary history to an employer, employment agency, or employee or agent thereof, such employer, employment agency, or employee or agent thereof may consider salary history in determining salary, benefits and other compensation for such applicant, and may verify such applicant’s salary history.”

Finally, the law does not apply to:

(1) Any actions taken by an employer, employment agency, or employee or agent thereof pursuant to any federal, state or local law that specifically authorizes the disclosure or verification of salary history for employment purposes, or specifically requires knowledge of salary history to determine an employee’s compensation;

(2) Applicants for internal transfer or promotion with their current employer;

(3) Any attempt by an employer, employment agency, or employee or agent thereof, to verify an applicant’s disclosure of non-salary related information or conduct a background check, provided that if such verification or background check discloses the applicant’s salary history, such disclosure shall not be relied upon for purposes of determining the salary, benefits or other compensation of such applicant during the hiring process, including the negotiation of a contract; or

(4) Public employee positions for which salary, benefits or other compensation are determined pursuant to procedures established by collective bargaining.