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Following in the footsteps of states like Delaware, Massachusetts and Oregon, California has taken steps to narrow the gender wage gap. As of January 1, California employers will no longer be able to ask about an applicant’s prior salary history.  The bill, AB168 applies to all public and private California employers of any size.

Philadelphia, New York City and San Francisco have drawn up and passed similar ordinances that prohibit employers from asking about salary history. San Francisco’s version of the law also prevents employers in the city from releasing a current or former employee’s salary without their consent.

The California bill prohibits employers from asking about an applicant’s previous salary orally or in writing. However, if the applicant voluntarily offers the information the employer can use it in determining the salary for that specific applicant. This new law in California applies to jobs within the state. One of the areas still to be decided is if it also applies to employers seeking California residents for jobs out of state.

It has been a standard practice of employers to ask about an applicants previous salary history. The challenge for multistate employers will be to decide whether or not to remove the question of salary history from all applications or develop alternate versions for us where it cannot be asked.  All of this is meant to assist in getting rid of gender discrimination and narrow the gender wage gap.