California Employers Will Soon Be Banned From Asking Job Applicants About Their Prior Salary

In the latest legislative effort to fight gender- and race-related wage disparities, a new law effective January 1, 2018 will prohibit California employers from seeking, whether “orally or in writing,” salary history information, including benefits information, from job applicants. The law expressly prohibits employers from relying on an applicant’s salary history information as a factor in determining whether to extend an employment offer or what salary to offer an applicant.  The law also requires employers to provide the “pay scale” for a position to an applicant upon reasonable request, but does not define the term “pay scale.”

The law makes clear that if an applicant voluntarily and without prompting discloses salary history information to a prospective employer, then the employer may consider and rely on that information to determine the applicant’s starting salary.  However, consistent with previous legislation, the law reiterates that prior salary cannot by itself justify disparities in compensation among employees who are performing substantially similar work for the same employer but who are different sexes, races, or ethnicities.

In light of this new law, employers should review and revise employment applications, background check documents, interview templates, compensation guidelines, or any other documents or policies to remove questions seeking salary history information of applicants for employment.


The above summary has been prepared for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice.  

Bernstein & Friedland, P.C. is a boutique employment law firm in Los Angeles specializing in wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and unpaid wage and overtime matters.  Please visit our website at to learn more about us.

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