Salary Inquiry Ban – AB 168

Author: Trina Clayton

Women – Have you ever felt that you were being paid less money than the men sitting right next to you, doing pretty much the same work?   Were there times where you actually knew this to be the case?  You are not alone!

Several studies reflect the unfortunate reality that women have historically been paid less than their male counterparts for performing substantially similar work.  AB 168 was enacted to try and fix this persistent gender pay disparity.  The rationale for AB 168 being that pay inequities are perpetuated when current pay is based on past employer decisions that could have been discriminatory.

Everyone is familiar with the situation – you are applying for a new job.  Maybe you are applying online, maybe you are talking to a recruiter or the director of Human Resources.  Inevitably, the question is asked – “How much were you making at your last job?”  The reason for asking this question might be benign, but, unfortunately, it has been shown to have a notable discriminatory effect.  If a female applicant had been discriminated against at her prior place of employment (by receiving less pay than her male counterparts), the new employer might feel justified in offering her a lower salary at the new job since, “that is what she was making before.”

AB 168 makes it unlawful for California employers, including state and local governments, to ask applicants about their prior salary, compensation, and benefits.  Additionally, the employer cannot, either directly or indirectly (for instance, by asking a former employer), seek this type of information about the applicant.  The employer may consider prior salary information the applicant voluntarily and without prompting discloses, in setting pay.   However, as noted in our earlier blog post, prior salary cannot, by itself, justify gender compensation disparity.  For specific legal advice regarding gender equality regulations or any other employment issue, please contact Ad Astra for guidance.

By Scripta Ad Astra Staff

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