On May 4, New York City enacted a local law barring employers from asking about a prospective employee’s salary history (including benefits or other compensation) or conducting an investigative search into public records or reports for the purpose of obtaining an applicant’s salary history. In addition, if an employer knows of an applicant’s past compensation, NYC’s new law prohibits it from relying on that information when determining future compensation. According to a press release issued by NYC at the time, the new law endeavors to ensure “equal pay for equal work.” According to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, “The simple fact is that women and people of color are frequently paid less for the same work as their white, male counterparts.” The new law does not prohibit employers from asking applicants about their expectations of compensation, or from relying on an applicant’s salary history when the information is voluntarily provided by an applicant without prompting, Employers may also request “objective measures” of an applicant’s productivity, including information related to sales, revenue or other production reports. The NYC Commission of Human Rights is empowered to fine employers with civil penalties of up to US $250,000 for willful and malicious violations of the law and can also award compensatory damages. The new law becomes effective on October 31.

Legal Weeds: Companies located in New York City should amend their procedures by October 31 to ensure that they do not affirmatively search public records or reports regarding job applicants’ compensation history or that they ask questions of job applicants regarding their salary history. Unless voluntarily provided without prompting, salary history of a job applicant cannot be used to determine potential wages. These new requirements apply to applicants for all jobs, whether non-professional or professional.