San Francisco Passes Ordinance Banning Salary History Inquires

On July 21, 2017, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee signed an ordinance banning employers from asking job applicants about their salary histories.  The new ordinance is scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2018.

The “Pay in Parity Ordinance” applies to all employers registered to do business in the city. It applies to applicants applying for jobs that will be performed in San Francisco and whose application, in whole or in part, will be solicited, received, processed or considered in the city.  “Applicants” include any individual who applies for temporary, seasonal, part-time work or for work through a temporary agency.

The ordinance prohibits employers from

  • Directly or indirectly inquiring about an applicant’s salary history
  • Considering or relying on an applicant’s salary history when making hiring decisions and salary offers
  • Refusing to hire or retaliating against an applicant for not disclosing his/her salary
  • Releasing the salary of any current or former employee to a prospective employer without the employee’s written authorization.

The ordinance does not prohibit an applicant from “voluntarily and without prompting” disclosing salary history. In such instances, an employer may consider salary information when making employment decisions (while also keeping in mind that, under California’s Equal Pay Act, salary history cannot be used as sole justification for pay differentials amongst genders or races for substantially similar work).

The ordinance is intended to narrow the wage gap between men and women by eliminating consideration of prior salaries that may reflect historical inequities.  In addition to prohibiting salary history questions, the ordinance also requires employers to post a notice advising employees of their rights.  Failure to abide by the ordinance will subject the employer to fines and other penalties.

The ordinance is part of a growing trend across the country and mirrors a current state proposal under consideration by the California legislature. Attorneys at the Mitzel Group will monitor any amendments to the ordinance and statewide trends.  We encourage you to contact us with any questions.