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New York City Bans Employers From Asking For Your Salary History

Just one underpaid position can set an individual on a course of underpayment

On Wednesday, the New York City Council approved legislation that bans employers in the city from asking prospective employees about their salary history.

The bill, sponsored by Public Advocate Letitia James and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, will prohibit both public and private sector hiring managers from using previous salary history to determine a new salary offer. Banning the question is about more than simply saving job seekers the hassle of having to skirt the issue. It’s also about moving the entire city’s population toward equal pay and fair wages.

“Just one underpaid position can set an individual on a course of underpayment lasting their entire professional life,” City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito told the council, according to AM New York.

The bill’s only caveat, AM New York reported, is that it does not apply to internal candidates and also excludes public employees, whose salaries are determined by collective bargaining agreements.

James additionally told the council:

“When women are paid less for equal work, one job to the next, not only are they cheated … they are proportionally cheated in their retirement benefits. Improving the status of women has a lasting effect on all communities, including men, children, and families … Individuals should not look at this as a women’s issue. This is an issue that affects all of us.”

New York City isn’t the first (and hopefully not the last) city to pass such a measure; Massachusetts, Puerto Rico, and Philadelphia have all already banned the question from interviews. More than 20 other cities have similar measures up for a vote, according to The Washington Post.

The New York bill could have far-reaching effects for hiring managers across the country, according to Fatima Goss Graves, president-elect of the National Women's Law Center. She told The Washington Post the measure "stands to transform the way that companies operate around the country. So many companies operate in multiple jurisdictions. If a company changes its practices in New York, it is likely to also make changes around the country."

If Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., moves forward with her plan to reintroduce a bill she first sponsored in 2016, it could ban the question nationwide.

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