October 16, 2017.

On October 12, 2017, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a ban on employers inquiring about job applicants’ salary history. See Labor Code § 432.3. The new law amends California’s Equal Pay Act and Fair Pay Act to further enhance California law prohibiting gender-based pay discrimination, as employers often use past salary information to justify paying women less than men.

Under the new statute, employers are now prohibited from inquiring about or using prior salary history to justify pay differences between employees. See Labor Code § 432.3. Section 432.3 provides that:

  • An employer shall not rely on the salary history information of an applicant for employment as a factor in determining whether to offer employment to an applicant or what salary to offer an applicant;
  • An employer shall not, orally or in writing, personally or through an agent, seek salary history information, including compensation and benefits, about an applicant for employment.
  • An employer, upon reasonable request, shall provide the pay scale for a position to an applicant applying for employment.

These amendments build on other recent amendments to California’s Equal Pay Act. On September 30, 2016, Governor Brown signed into law the Wage and Equality Act of 2016, which amended these prior laws to address race and ethnicity based pay discrimination. Effective January 1, 2017, that amendment now prohibits an employer from paying its employees less than employees of the opposite sex, or of another race, or of another ethnicity for substantially similar work. See Labor Code § 1197.5.

Employers should take note of these new amendments’ requirements and adjust their hiring and pay practices accordingly. In particular, employers should be sure not to ask a prospective employee about salary history, or use any such information in determining what to pay an employee. If you are a female worker or a worker of a minority race or ethnicity, consider: Has your employer ever asked you for salary history information, such as on a job application form? Are you being paid less than male colleagues or white colleagues for performing substantially similar work? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, your employer may be in violation of the Fair Pay Act and you may have a claim. Pay discrimination issues based on gender, race, ethnicity, or salary history are often widespread in the case of companies with large workforces, and significant numbers of other employees may also be suffering the same or similar issues,
making class action treatment potentially appropriate.

To find out more on any of these issues, please contact our offices: Wucetich & Korovilas LLP; (310) 335-2001; dimitri@wukolaw.com. This article is for educational use only, should not be considered legal advice, and in no way creates an attorney-client relationship between the firm and the reader.