The Suffolk County, NY Legislature has unanimously enacted a bill that will prohibit employers and their agents from inquiring about job applicants’ wage or salary history during the hiring process. The Restricting Information on Salaries and Earnings Act (the “RISE Act”) goes into effect on June 30, 2019.

The RISE Act amends the Suffolk County Human Rights Law, which applies to employers with four or more employees.

The Act provides that it is an unfair discriminatory practice for an employer or employment agency (or an employee or agent of same) to:

  • Inquire, whether in any form of application or otherwise, about a job applicant’s wage or salary history, including but not limited to, compensation and benefits.
  • Rely on the salary history of an applicant for employment in determining the wage or salary amount for such applicant at any stage in the employment process, including at offer or contract.

For purposes of the Act, “to inquire” means to ask an applicant or former employer orally, or in writing, or otherwise or to conduct a search of publicly available records or reports.

An employer, employment agency, employee or agent thereof may, however, seek to confirm wage information if required by applicable law or pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement. Unlike similar laws in New York City and Westchester, NY, which recognize certain additional exceptions to this prohibition including, for example, when the applicant makes an unprompted and willing disclosure of his or her salary history to the prospective employer, the Suffolk County law does not address this scenario or otherwise include any other exceptions.

Individuals alleging violations of the Act may file a complaint with the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission. Potential remedies include compensatory damages, payment to the Suffolk County general fund, and civil fines and penalties.