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Employers Are Not Allowed To Ask About Past Employment Compensation

On October 31, 2017, a law banning New York City employers from “(1) asking job applicants about their compensation history and (2) relying on a job applicant’s compensation history when making a job offer or negotiating an employment contract, unless freely volunteered by the applicant” took effect. Furthermore, the law also prohibits a potential employer from searching public records in order to obtain a person’s past salary history. A potential employer may only inquire about an applicant’s salary and or benefits expectations, but not history. However, if an applicant freely volunteers his or her past salary, an employer is entitled to verify the information.

In instances in which an employer violates this law, the job applicant can file a complaint with the New York City Commission on Human Rights or commence an action in a court of law.

However, the ban does not affect:

  • Actions pursuant to a law authorizing disclosure or verification of salary history;
  • Internal transfers or promotions; and
  • Public employee positions where compensation is determined through collective bargaining.

According to advocacy groups, this law will assist in combating pay inequity for groups such as women, while others argue that the law is unconstitutional and infringes on the first amendment right to free speech.

It is important for employers and members of the workforce to be aware of this new change in the law. New York City is not alone in protecting potential employees’ compensation history. Philadelphia, Massachusetts, and Puerto Rico implemented this growing trend in the months prior and more states are likely to follow. In addition, it is important for those currently navigating through a complex interview process to remember, in the event a potential employer violates this law, the New York City Commission on Human Rights Law does not hold those filing a complaint to a high burden of proof. Therefore, do not be afraid to speak out in the event that your rights are violated.

New York City’s human rights laws protect its residents in many areas, based on a number of protected classes. If you believe your rights have been violated by a potential employer, contact an experienced New York employment law attorney who can ensure that your rights are protected. Call Steven Mitchell Sack at (917) 371-8000 or email him at

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