On October 12, 2017, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a salary privacy law prohibiting California employers from seeking or relying on salary history information, including compensation and benefits, about an applicant for employment. Agents of the employer, such as recruiters, are also prohibited from seeking for this information. Further, upon reasonable request, employers must provide an applicant with the pay scale for the position for which they are applying. The law does not define “pay scale.” This law applies to all public and private-sector California employers of any size. This law goes into effect January 1st, 2018.

California’s is the latest of several newly-adopted state and local laws to join the trend of banning such inquiries. A similar law took effect in Oregon and New York City and five other jurisdictions (Delaware, Massachusetts, Philadelphia, Puerto Rico, San Francisco) either have already implemented or are in various stages of phasing in bans of their own in the near future. The goal is to narrow the gender pay gap with proponents arguing that prior salary can perpetuate gender discrimination.

Employers in the above jurisdictions should check all internal processes- applications, screening and interview practices, to ensure compliance. Employers may replace their salary history questions by asking applicants salary expectations- how much they would like to be paid, which gives employers information without violating the law.