A bill recently introduced into Congress would amend the Fair Labour Standards Act to prohibit employers from asking job applicants about their salary history.

The Pay Equity for All Act (HR 6030) was introduced into the House of Representatives on September 14 2016. The bill adds a new section to the Fair Labour Standards Act, making it an unlawful practice for an employer to:

  • screen prospective employees based on their previous wages or salary histories (including benefits or other compensation);
  • seek the previous wages or salary history (including benefits or other compensation) of any prospective employee from that prospective employee's current or former employer; and
  • discharge or in any other manner retaliate against an employee or prospective employee for opposing an unlawful practice relating to salary history, for making a complaint regarding such a practice or for participating in an investigation relating to such a practice.

Employers that violate the prohibition on salary history inquiries would be subject to a minimum civil penalty of $5,000 for a first offence, which increases by $1,000 for each additional offence (up to a maximum penalty of $10,000).

The employer would also be liable to each employee or prospective employee who was the subject of the violation for special damages not to exceed $10,000, plus attorneys' fees.

Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton (Democrat, District of Columbia) introduced the bill to ensure that applicants' salaries are based on their skills and merit, noting that wages based on salary history can reinforce gender and racial pay gaps. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

For further information please contact Andrew Bezouska at DeWitt Ross & Stevens SC by telephone (+1 608 255 8891) or email ([email protected]). The DeWitt Ross & Stevens SC website can be accessed at www.dewittross.com.