New Law Clarifies Pre-Employment Salary History Questions by Prospective Employer

Employers have the right to ask job applicants many questions but there are certain questions that are improper – out of bounds. A recent bill which was signed into law, Assembly Bill 2282, was enacted to clarify some confusion about what questions are proper and which ones are improper.

Prior law

Employers can’t rely on an applicant’s prior salary history information as a factor in deciding whether to offer a job applicant a job. Employers also can’t use that prior salary history in deciding how much pay to offer the job applicant. There are a few specific exceptions. The law prior to the passage of AB 2282, also required that an employer, if a reasonable request was made, provide the job applicant with the current pay scale for the job position the applicant was seeking.

Prior law also prohibited an employer “from paying any of its employees at wage rates less than the rates paid to employees of the opposite sex for substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions” – unless the employer could show that certain factors reasonably accounted for the pay differential.

Prior law also prohibited differences in pay to employees based on race or ethnicity for work that was comparable.

The new law clarifications

The new law defines some of these terms as follows:

  • “Pay scale” means a salary or hourly wage range.”
  • “Reasonable request’” means a request made after an applicant has completed an initial interview with the employer.

This means that employers don’t have to initially inform the applicant of the pay scale for the job – just after the applicant has completed the initial interview.

The new law does permit the employer to ask the applicant about his salary expectations for the job.

A lot depends on the job they are seeking. Some employees are clearly qualified for a higher-paying job even though their prior work salaries may reflect otherwise. For example, they may have worked in a different but comparable field.

The new law explains that seniority or a merit system could justify a differential in pay.

The law does apply to all employers in California including those who work for the state or local government.

Understand your California employment rights

There are federal and state laws designed to protect workers from discrimination, harassment, and other workplace protections. These laws include regulating what questions are appropriate and which ones are not. We’ve been fighting for workers for more than 30 years. We have the experience and resources to help you get justice. For help now, call (877)789-9707 to schedule an appointment. We have offices throughout California. Se Habla Espanol.