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Massachusetts Bans Employers from Asking about Salary History in Job Interviews

By Michael Klazema on 8/26/2016

On August 1, 2016, Governor Charlie Baker signed Senate Bill 2119 “An Act to Establish Pay Equity” that made Massachusetts the first state to prohibit employers from asking for applicants’ salary histories during the hiring process. The new state law requires the employer to pay their male and female employees equally for comparable work. As part of the law, Massachusetts placed significant restrictions on employers obtaining prior compensation history. The theory is, at least in part, that using prior salary to decide what pay to offer locks in patterns of prior discrimination against women.

Under Chapter 149 Section 105A(c), it is an unlawful practice for employers to:

  • Screen job applicants based on their wage, including benefits or other compensation or salary histories, including by requiring that an applicant’s prior wages, including benefits or other compensation or salary history satisfy minimum or maximum criteria; or request or require as a condition of being interviewed, or as a condition of continuing to be considered for an offer of employment, that an applicant disclose prior wages or salary history; or
  • Seek the salary history of any prospective employee from any current or former employer; but a prospective employee may provide written authorization to a prospective employer to confirm prior wages, including benefits or other compensation or salary history only after any offer of employment with compensation has been made to the prospective employee.

Employers will have to wait until after they extend an offer of employment with compensation in order to ask about an applicant’s salary history, or the applicants can voluntarily disclose their salary information to the employer. The employer cannot seek such a voluntary disclosure.

The new law will take effect on July 1, 2018 and is accessible here for review: https://malegislature.gov/Laws/SessionLaws/Acts/2016/Chapter177

What This Means to You:

  • This applies to all employers in Massachusetts.
  • Employers may not seek compensation history from job applicants or from prior or current employers.
  • Employers can seek compensation history information once they extend offers of employment with compensation.
Employers may verify compensation history that a job applicant discloses if the job applicant volunteered that information. 

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