Employers in Kansas City, Missouri, are now prohibited from asking applicants about their prior salary or pay histories. Kansas City’s ordinance, which becomes effective on October 31, 2019, is part of a growing national trend to ban salary history questions. Several states (including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington) have already passed similar legislation.

Kansas City’s Law

The ordinance generally prohibits employers from inquiring about applicants’ salary histories. Specifically, the ordinance prohibits employers from

  • screening applicants based on their current or previous wages or other compensation and maintaining any requirement that prior wages meet minimum or maximum criteria;
  • using past wage information to determine whether to offer an applicant a position or to determine the applicant’s salary or other compensation; and
  • retaliating against, refusing to hire, or otherwise “disfavoring” an applicant because the applicant refused to provide his or her salary history to the employer.

Exceptions

The ordinance includes several exceptions:

  • The ordinance expressly allows an employer and applicant to discuss the applicant’s expectations as they relate to salary, benefits, or other compensation, “including but not limited to unvested equity or deferred compensation that an applicant would forfeit or have cancelled by virtue of the applicant’s resignation from their current employer.”
  • An employer and applicant may discuss an applicant’s salary history if the applicant voluntarily, and without prompting, discloses his or her salary history.
  • The salary ban excludes current employees who apply for internal job transfers or promotion, former employees who apply for rehire within five years of their employment separation where the employer maintains access to the former employee’s compensation history at the time of rehire, and all employees whose salary or compensation is determined pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement.
  • Employers are not penalized if applicants provide voluntary or unprompted disclosures about their salary histories.

Key Takeaways

Salary history bans intended to bridge the pay gap between men and women are gaining momentum nationally and likely are here to stay. The Kansas City ordinance specifically references a gender pay gap of more than 21 percent in 2018. Prior to October 31, 2019, employers may want to consider

  • revising their internal and external forms to delete any salary questions from any hiring forms, such as job applications, online applications, candidate questionnaires, job search engines, online contact/inquiry forms, new hire forms, and background check forms;
  • updating interview and salary negotiation policies and procedures; and
  • training human resources managers, onboarding teams, hiring managers, recruiters, and interviewers on the new provisions.