Suffolk County Enacts Salary History Ban
On November 30, 2018, Suffolk County of Long Island, New York joined other municipalities and states across the country when it unanimously enacted the Restricting Information on Salaries and Earnings (RISE) Act, prohibiting employers in Suffolk County from requesting or seeking wage histories of job applicants during the interview and hiring process.
The RISE Act, which amends the Suffolk County Human Rights Law, will go into effect on June 30, 2019, and applies to both public and private sector employers with four or more employees. The law prohibits covered employers, employment agencies, and any employees or agents thereof from inquiring about a job applicant’s current or previous wages, benefits, or other compensation, whether orally or in writing. In particular, covered entities are prohibited from soliciting information regarding salary history from the job applicant’s former or current employer, searching public records regarding the applicant’s salary history, or relying on the applicant’s salary history in determining the applicant’s new wage or salary at any stage in the employment process.
Unlike other laws of the RISE Act’s nature, the only stated exceptions are when another law requires the disclosure or verification of prior wages for employment purposes, or pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement.
Similar laws have been enacted in municipalities across the country, including in New York City, Westchester County, and Albany County, as well as statewide in California, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Oregon, and — effective January 1, 2019 — Connecticut. Like the other laws, the intent of the RISE Act is to close the wage gap for women and people of color by ensuring that the salary offered by an employer is not based on prior wages earned, but on responsibility and qualifications.
Employers that violate the law may be required to pay damages or a fine, and may be subject to additional affirmative relief such as mandated training and posting requirements. Employers in Suffolk County should begin to review their hiring practices now, including by updating their employment applications and training their managers on the requirements of the RISE Act.
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