Bans Seeking Salary History From Prospective Employers (A.6707/S.5233)

Date: 2017

A.6707 (Galef)

S.5233 (Carlucci)


Unshackle Upstate, a non-partisan, pro-taxpayer, pro-economic growth, education and advocacy coalition made up of business and trade organizations from all parts of Upstate New York, opposes this legislation.

This bill is an effort to address the “pay gap” that affects many women, minority group members and persons with disabilities. It would prohibit employers from asking prospective employees for their salary history. A violation would be subject to a civil penalty of $5,000 for a first offense, increasing by an additional $1,000 for each subsequent offense (up to $10,000). Aggrieved employees would be able to bring an action against a violating employer, and the employer would be liable for the attorneys' fees and special damages of up to $10,000. Finally, the bill directs the state Department of Labor to undertake a public awareness campaign to inform the state’s employers that it is illegal to seek salary information from prospective employees.

While well-intended, this legislation would impose yet another burdensome mandate on the state’s private employers. And the value of the ban is not clear.

Inquiring about a prospective employee’s previous compensation is not a discriminatory tactic. It is a standard hiring practice that helps employers to hire the right employees to grow their business.

What is not clear is how not inquiring about a job applicant’s pay history will automatically result in higher salaries for employees if they are hired.

This legislation reflects yet another feel good ‘policy solution’ from Albany lawmakers that is unlikely to have any positive real world benefits. But it could be harmful to employers, especially small businesses and those without human resources departments.

Banning this currently ubiquitous practice – and imposing significant fines on employers – is harsh and misguided.

Instead of imposing new mandates on employers, we urge lawmakers to take real steps to improve New York’s business climate, which continues to be ranked among the worst in the nation.

Finally, we note that the sponsor’s memorandum indicates that “[t]here are no fiscal implications associated with the passage of this legislation.” This law, if enacted, would require enforcement by the state Department of Labor, and DOL would also be required to undertake a public awareness campaign. We urge the sponsors to reconsider their fiscal analysis and provide a real assessment of what this legislation will cost taxpayers to implement.

For these reasons, Unshackle Upstate opposes the enactment of this legislation.