New California Law Bans Employers from Asking Job Applicants About Salary History – Employer Duty to Provide Pay Scale Upon Request

Effective January 1, 2018, California employers will be prohibited from obtaining salary history information from job applicants either directly such as asking job applicants for such information, or through an agent such as a staffing firm. The bill would also require employers, upon reasonable request, to provide the pay scale for a position.

Requirements of New California Labor Code Section 432.3

California A.B. 168 adds section 432.3 to the California Labor Code. The new Labor Code makes it an unlawful employment practice for California employers to do any of the following:

  • Seeking salary history information (including compensation and befits) about a job applicant, either orally or in writing;
  • Seeking such information personally or through an agent, such as a staffing firm;
  • Relying on such information as a factor in determining whether to offer employment to the applicant, or what salary to offer the applicant.

California employers are also required to provide the pay scale to an applicant, upon reasonable request of the applicant.

Permissible Conduct Under the Statute

Labor Code section 432.3 does not appear to prevent employers from seeking information from the applicant about the salary or salary range the applicant is looking for. Conceivably, the applicant could then request the pay scale for the position in order to respond.

The statute makes clear that nothing prohibits an applicant from voluntarily, and without prompting by the employer, disclosing salary history information to the employer. If the applicant voluntarily and without prompting elects to disclose salary history information, the employer may consider such information in setting salary. However, under existing law, the employer would still be prohibited from allowing salary, by itself, to justify any disparity in compensation.