What States and Cities Have Salary History Bans? {Slideshare}

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As an update to our 2019 slideshare shown below, we reviewed new states and cities with salary history bans on asking prospective employees.  When we wrote the slidehshare in 2019 there seemed to be momentum for salary history bans to become a federal law called the Paycheck Fairness Act.  That has not happened and while the number of states with state-wide bans has increased from 4 states and 1 territory to 18 states and 1 territory and from 3 large cities to 20 cities, it is nowhere near standard across the country.  Interestingly two states, Michigan and Wisconsin, have gone the other direction.  Michigan FORBIDS any of their municipalities from passing salary history bans and Wisconsin  passed a law that “local governments may not prohibit employers from soliciting the salary history of prospective employees.”

Here are the states with state-wide salary history bans:  Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, DC, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania (state agencies only), Vermont, Virginia and Washington.  Puerto Rico continues to be the only territory on the list.  Most of the cities that have been added to the list focus only on salary history bans for city government hiring.  Joining New York City, Albany and Philadelphia are San Francisco, Atlanta, Chicago, Louisville, New Orleans, Montgomery County, MD, Jackson, Kansas City, St. Louis, Westchester County, NY, Suffolk County, NY, Cincinnati, Toledo, Pittsburgh, Columbia, SC, Richland County, SC and Salt Lake City.  Some of the cities go to the trouble of specifically mentioning employment agencies and recruiters are banned from asking salary history as well as direct-hire employers.

The latest available comprehensive list was published August 2020.  There are sure to be updates and changes with the Spring legislative agendas in most states.

Confused?  Looking for help?  Contact the Executive Recruiters at Smith Hanley Associates or reach out to Jacque Paige at jpaige@smithhanley.com.




  1. Can Employers Ask About Salary History?
  2. Increasingly, the answer to that question is no.
  3. Salary history questions are now off limits in 4 states, 3 large cities and 1 U.S. Territory.
  4. California, Delaware, Massachusetts, Oregon, Puerto Rico and New York City, Albany and Philadelphia.
  5. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 22 other states are considering similar measures.
  6. One of the aims of this initiative is to close the gender pay gap. Women earned 79.6 cents for every dollar men made in 2015 according to the Census Bureau.
  7. Advocates say questions about salary history reinforce unfair wages. Revealing current salary can prevent women from reaching market rate.
  8. What Should Employers Do?
  9. Take these steps if your company is in an affected region: • Remove questions about salary history from your applications • Retrain all employees involved in the hiring process on how to discuss salary • Paygrade open positions realistically • If you have multiple locations, address regional salary differences
  10. Questions on compensation should focus on what salary the candidate is seeking, not what they are currently making.
  11. What Does This Mean for Job Seekers? • You can voluntarily disclose your salary history. • Voluntary disclosure must be made “without prompting” of any kind from the employer. • Decide whether providing salary history may help your application or hurt it. • Ask for the pay range for the position before you provide your salary history.
  12. If you make more than the range, decide whether you should not apply or if the opportunity might be worth adjusting your salary expectations.
  13. Are more changes on the way? Currently, the list of states and cities impacted is short, but it’s possible that other states will soon follow suit.
  14. The Paycheck Fairness Act has been introduced in Congress that would strengthen provisions in the Equal Pay Act of 1963.
  15. This Act, if passed, bans employers from asking about a job candidate’s pay history during the interview process, and this would cover EVERY state and municipality.
  16. Interested in talking about how this could impact your job search? Contact Jacque Paige, Partner, Smith Hanley Associates, 203-319-4310 or jpaige@smithhanley.com
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