Connecticut Pay Equity Law Restricts Salary History Inquiries

Connecticut Pay Equity Law Restricts Salary History Inquiries

Connecticut Governor Daniel Malloy signed a bipartisan bill into law on Tuesday that will restrict employers in the state from asking candidates for their salary histories, the CT Post reported:

Called the pay equity bill, the new law prevents employers from asking job candidates about their salary history before extending them an offer. Supporters say that question often results in lower starting pay for women and people of color. In 2016, Connecticut women made 79 cents on the dollar compared to men, according to the National Women’s Law Center. Over a lifetime, women made $529,160 less than their male counterparts, on average.

Connecticut’s new law leaves some questions unanswered for employers, Proskauer attorneys Allan Bloom and Laura Fant note in a more detailed overview of the ramifications for employers. The law permits employers to ask about “other elements of a prospective employee’s compensation structure” than wages, but not the value of those elements. The law does not define the scope of these other elements, however, so Connecticut businesses may seek clarification on this question from the state’s labor department.

With the signing of this law, which goes into effect January 1, Connecticut will becomes the sixth US state to ban salary history inquiries: Massachusetts was the first to do so in 2016 (though the effective date of that law has been delayed until July 1 of this year), followed by California, Delaware, Oregon, and most recently Vermont. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has also put forward a bill that would ban these inquiries. New Jersey’s recently-enacted equal pay law does not prohibit them, but makes it easier for employees to demonstrate pay discrimination in a lawsuit.

Salary history questions have also been banned in Puerto Rico and in several cities, including New York. Philadelphia’s ban was recently partly overturned in federal court, but the city retained the right to prohibit the use of salary history information in setting pay, meaning it will still be risky for employers there to ask the question. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal recently issued a landmark ruling that differences in past salaries are insufficient to justify gender-based pay disparities.

Some states have pushed back on this trend: Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed a ban last year, while Michigan’s state legislature has preempted local jurisdictions from enacting bans of their own, but momentum is distinctly building toward doing away with salary histories as a means of setting pay, as many large national employers are also abandoning the practice.