New York City Public Advocate Letitia James has introduced legislation before the City Council that would amend the New York City Human Rights Law to make it an unlawful employment practice for employers to request job applicants’ wage history during the hiring process.

The bill would prohibit any employer or employment agency from asking about or otherwise inquiring into an applicant’s salary history, including but not limited to compensation and benefits, or searching publicly available records or reports for such salary history information.  Employers would further be prohibited from relying on an applicant’s salary history in determining the salary, compensation or benefits package for such applicant at any stage in the employment process, including in preparing an employment agreement or contract, unless the applicant disclosed such information willingly and without prompting. The proposed new law would not apply to any actions taken by an employer pursuant to any federal, state or local law that authorizes the disclosure or verification of salary history for employment purposes.

Public Advocate James stated that the proposed law is based on policy recommendations from a wage equity report that her office released in April 2016 entitled “Advancing Pay Equity in New York City” which found that women in New York earn $5.8 billion less in wages than men every year and face a significant wage gap in every industrial sector, and that wage disparities for women of color in New York City are significantly worse than the national average.

The proposed legislation follows on the heels of the recent passing of a similar law in Massachusetts, which also prohibits employers from requesting or inquiring into the salary history of job applicants and further restricts employee discussions about their own or another employee’s wages.

The bill has been referred to the City Council’s Committee on Civil Rights for further consideration. If passed, the law would take effect 120 days following adoption.