On Wednesday, April 12, 2017, the New York City Council passed a law amending the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) to add a protective class – salary history. The NYCHRL applies to all employers with four or more employees. The amendment prohibits employers in New York City from asking about or using a job applicant’s wage history (including benefits) in hiring decisions or negotiating terms of employment. Employers are, however, permitted to ask about objective measures of an applicant’s job performance, such as revenue, sales, or other production reports. The motivation behind the legislation is an attempt to curtail the gender wage gap and disparity in pay among races.

The New York City Commission on Human Rights enforces this amendment, as it does the NYCHRL, and offenders could receive penalties akin to the fines levied against companies for other forms of discrimination – up to $125 for an unintentional violation and up to $250,000 for an intentional malicious violation. Additionally, there is a private right of action for employees to sue.

The new law is on Mayor DeBlasio’s desk for signature, but it is anticipated that he will sign the bill without hesitation. Not only did the mayor’s spokesperson confirm that he worked closely with City Council on this bill, but the mayor also signed a similar bill for New York City agencies last year.

In order to avoid violation of the new law, employers should revise former job applications and ensure that their hiring personnel are trained on the new law in order to avoid asking an applicant about pay history. Additionally, employers should update their handbooks to confirm compliance with this new law.