House Dems to employers: Stop asking about workers' salary histories

A group of House Democrats want to make it impossible for employers to ask potential hires how much money they have made in the past.

A trio of lawmakers announced plans Tuesday to unveil a bill making it illegal to ask about salary history during the hiring process. They argue that requiring a salary history encourages the continued existence of a wage gap among “historically disadvantaged groups” like women and minorities.

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“Women and minorities often face discrimination in the job application process and in salary negotiations,” said Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.). “Many carry lower salaries for their entire careers simply because of wages at previous jobs that were set unfairly. Our bill will require employers to offer salaries to prospective employees based on merit, not gender, race, or ethnicity.”

Reps. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.) and Rosa DeLauro (Conn.) plan to unveil the bill along with Norton when Congress returns from recess next week.

The thinking behind the bill is that by requiring job candidates to disclose how much they made at prior jobs, it can encourage the continuation of subpar pay for certain groups. Even for employers that are not actively discriminatory, they argued that a salary history can provide an unfair baseline for future paychecks.

Some governments are taking a similar tack on the state and local level. Massachusetts barred taking a salary history earlier this month, and similar bills are pending in a handful of other states. New York City is also exploring banning employers from asking those types of questions.