The New York City Council recently amended the New York City Human Rights Law (Title 8 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York) to make it an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer to inquire about a job applicant’s “salary history” and/or rely on a job applicant’s “salary history” in determining that applicant’s compensation at any stage in the hiring process. Salary history includes “current or prior wage, benefits, or other compensation.” The ban not only extends to inquiries made directly to job applicants, but also applies to any inquiries made to the applicant’s current or former employer and any search of publicly available records for the purpose of obtaining an applicant’s salary history.

The new law, which applies to New York City employers with four or more employees, aims to eliminate gender-based pay inequality by preventing employers from continuing the pay disparities that applicants may have experienced in past employment.

However, there are still several exceptions to the new law. First, if the applicant “voluntarily and without prompting discloses” his or her salary history to a prospective employer, the prospective employer is permitted to consider the salary history in determining a prospective employee’s salary, benefits, and other compensation, as well as to verify a job applicant’s salary history. Second, the ban does not apply to current employees applying for an internal transfer or promotion within the same company. Third, it does not apply to public employees for which salary, benefits, or other compensation are determined pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement. Fourth, the new law does not apply to employers acting pursuant to any federal, state, or local law authorizing the disclosure or verification of salary history, or requiring knowledge of salary history for employment purposes.

Additionally, while the new law does not bar employers from verifying an applicant’s background information, if a prospective employer inadvertently learns of the applicant’s salary history during this verification process, the employer is prohibited from relying on this salary history when setting the salary, benefits, or other compensation of the applicant.

Lastly, employers may still discuss with job applicants their “expectations with respect to salary, benefits, and other compensation” so long as they do not inquire about salary history.

The law will go into effect 180 days after it is signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

If a potential employer questions you about your salary history during a job interview or at any time during the hiring process, we recommend consulting with a New York City employment discrimination as soon as possible to learn all of your rights under the law.

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