San Francisco Bans Employers from Asking about Salary History in Job Interviews

On July 11, 2017, the Board of Supervisors Government Audit and Oversight Committee passed an ordinance that prohibits employers from asking for applicants’ salary histories during the hiring process. The ordinance’s effective date is July 1, 2018.

The ordinance’s definition of employer includes job placement, referral agencies, and other employment agencies; however, 'employer' does not include any unit of local, state, or federal government other than the city and county of San Francisco. The definition of employment includes temporary, seasonal, and commissioned work but not any work as an independent contractor.

Under the ordinance, employers may not:

  • Consider or rely on an applicant’s salary history as a factor in determining whether to offer employment to an applicant or what salary to offer an applicant;
  • Refuse to hire or otherwise disfavor , injure, or retaliate against an applicant for not disclosing his or her salary history to the employer; and
  • Release the salary history of any current or former employee to the person’s prospective employer without written authorization from the current or former employee unless the release of salary history is required by law, is part of a publicly available record, or is subject to a collective bargaining agreement.

Employers can rely on the salary history of the job applicant when the applicant voluntarily and without prompting discloses their salary history. The ordinance allows employers to engage in discussion with the applicant about their salary expectation.

The ordinance orders the Office of Labor Standards Enforcements (OSLE) to create a notice detailing the applicants’ rights that the employer must display in a conspicuous place. From July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019, the OSLE will issue warnings for any violations that occur. Starting July 1, 2019, first offenders will receive a warning, but employers who commit any subsequent violation will face penalties ranging from $100 to $500 per violation.

What This Means to You:

  • This act applies to all employers in San Francisco and will go into effect on July 1, 2018.
  • Employers may not seek compensation history information about job applicants.
  • Employers may rely on the compensation history of the job applicant when the applicant voluntarily and without prompting discloses their wage history.

The act is available here for review:

Michael Klazema

About Michael Klazema The author

Michael Klazema is Chief Marketing Technologist at and has over two decades of experience in digital consulting, online product management, and technology innovation. He is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments.

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