A Closer Look at Salary Transparency Law for Applicants and Employees

On December 15, 2021, the New York City Council passed legislation—as part of a growing, multi-state/city effort to overcome pay disparity—amending the NYC Human Rights Law to now require that employers disclose salary ranges in job postings. This law, in effect beginning May 14, 2022, will cover all NYC employers with four or more employees, and is just the latest in a quickly growing legislation movement to promote pay transparency across job openings, position transfers, and promotion opportunities.

This wave of legislation—which began years ago with California’s 2018 Equal Pay Act—focuses on employee protection by helping ensure equal work receives equal pay. It’s an important effort, as ongoing research of pay secrecy has shown a disproportionate and negative impact on women and employees of color. What’s more, it’s a shift from an employee’s responsibility to negotiate equitable pay, to an employer’s responsibility to create an equitable culture that promotes fair pay overall.

In tandem with growing legislation prohibiting employers from qualifying job candidates by requesting salary history on applications, pay transparency laws requiring disclosure of salary ranges during the hiring process will continue to gain traction across the country.

For your reference—although it’s a snapshot of legislation as it exists today—here’s a quick look at states and cities that currently require employers to disclose salary ranges to applicants and employees.

California: Equal Pay Act
As stated above, California was the first U.S. state to prohibit employers from requiring prior salary history from applicants. California employers are also required to provide salary ranges upon request from an applicant after the initial interview.

Cincinnati, Ohio: Prohibited Salary History and Use
Effective March, 2020, this ordinance prohibits Cincinnati employers with at least 15 employees to inquire about previous salary history. Additionally, pay scale for the position offered must be provided upon applicant request after a conditional offer of employment.

Colorado: Equal Pay for Equal Work Act
Effective January, 2021, Job advertisements/listings now must include pay ranges and position benefits.

Connecticut: An Act Concerning the Disclosure of Salary Range for a Vacant Position
Effective October 1, 2021, Connecticut employers are now required to provide job applicants with salary range information—prior to an offer—for the position(s) they have applied to, or at the applicant’s request, whichever occurs first.

Maryland: Equal Pay for Equal Work
Effective October 1, 2020, this legislation requires employers to provide a wage range for a position to applicants upon request, and also restricts an employer’s ability to inquire about salary history during the hiring process.

Nevada: Equal Pay Act
Effective October 1, 2021, private employers (and certain public employers) in Nevada will no longer be able to request an applicant’s prior salary history during the application process, and will be required to provide salary/wage information for the position following an interview.

New York City: Amendment to the New York City Human Rights Law
As mentioned above, beginning May 14, 2022, the majority of public and private NYC employers will be required to disclose salary ranges within job postings.

Rhode Island: Rhode Island Equal Pay Law
Taking effect January 1, 2023, upcoming legislation will require employers to provide job applicants pay range information upon request during an interview, as well as to employees when they are moving to a new position within the company. Current employees may also ask for the salary range specific to their position.

Toledo, Ohio: Toledo Pay Equity Act
As the second Ohio city to pass pay legislation, effective June 25, 2020, employers are prohibited from asking salary history, and must provide a position’s pay scale upon a conditional offer of employment, or upon applicant request.

Washington:  Amendment to the Equal Pay and Opportunities Act
Effective July 28, 2019, a salary history ban applies to all Washington employers, regardless of size. An additional requirement to disclose salary range information to applicants requesting, or after a conditional job offer is made, applies to Washington employers with 15 or more employees.

We can pretty safely assume that as today’s employers and workers move through—and past—the COVID pandemic, legislators will be thinking not only about economic recovery, but also about further ensuring workplace equity now and into the future. We very likely have not seen the last of new law regarding salary transparency.

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