New Laws Ban Employers From Asking About Salary History

June 7, 2019 in HR Best Practices



As pay discrimination gets increasing attention, many state and local government officials are continuing to take legislative action to prevent unfair salary discrepancies from pervading the workforce.

According to HR Dive, States that have enacted some form of salary question ban for private employers as of the writing of this article include:


  • California
  • Colorado (starting 2021)
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Maine (starting September 2019)
  • Massachusetts
  • Missouri (starting October 2019 for employers employing six or more people)
  • Ohio (starting March 2020, with some limitations)
  • Oregon
  • Puerto Rico
  • Vermont
  • Washington

In many more states, local and county governments have also enacted salary question bans including: New York’s Albany County, Suffolk County (starting June 30, 2019), and Westchester County as well as New York City, and Philadelphia (pending a legal challenge).

Conversely, Michigan and Wisconsin have gone the other way, issuing state-wide laws that “Local governments may not prohibit employers from soliciting the salary history of prospective employees.” Employers in any of these regions should study local and state laws to ensure compliance.

It should come as no surprise that these restrictions have caused some unique challenges for hiring managers, forcing them to revisit their current practices. If you’re like many hiring managers, you may have inquired with candidates about their previous salaries during the interviewing process. However, due to a heightened focus on reducing the incidence of pay discrimination, employers must take more initiative to develop their own set of guidelines and criteria when establishing proposed wages.


As you adjust your company’s interview questions accordingly, here are a few important steps your hiring team can take on the quest to establishing fair and competitive salary ranges:


Conduct a thorough analysis of each job.

Rather than simply assign a generic salary to a job, it’s critical to do a thorough review of the position and its specific responsibilities. Just because a job at your company may share the same title as one at a different organization doesn’t mean the job is comparable in any way, shape or form. As you assess the position, take note of the job’s responsibilities, time commitment and required credentials. These factors will be an important piece of the puzzle as you formulate a salary.

Perform market research.  

Market research should always be a core component of how a salary is determined. While there’s no “magic number,” there are research findings that reflect salary information specific to food and beverage professionals. Using current data from trusted resources will provide you with a range of salary benchmarks associated with the job type and industry. In addition to the U.S. Bureau Labor of Statistics, consider checking out checking out Kinsa Group’s Salary Guide and sites like Glassdoor and Indeed to gather the national and regional salaries offered at similar companies. Keep in mind that the types of positions should be comparable in terms of functions and responsibilities, as this can vary by organization.

Promote non-monetary benefits to candidates.

There will inevitably be candidates who counter your offer and try to negotiate. If a candidate seems disgruntled, don’t forget to fully educate them about your company’s non-monetary benefits which could include flexible scheduling, a corporate wellness program and childcare support. In many cases, these benefits can be just as valuable – if not more valuable – in the eyes of employees. As stress levels among the workforce continue to rise, younger and older professionals alike will appreciate a work environment that affords them a better work-life balance.


Need more insight into food and beverage compensation?

Check out Kinsa Group’s 2019 Food and Beverage Salary Guide to learn more!