Equal Opportunity For All
Equal Pay For Equal Work Regardless Of Gender Or Race
Policy Library

Stop the Unfair Pay Gap Cycle

Race and gender pay gaps persist across the United States. Women make an average of 80 cents to a man’s dollar—a 20% wage gap. And the pay gap between the highest- and lowest-earning workers by gender and race is closer to 50% in many states. To ensure equal pay for equal work, one step is to limit employers’ ability to ask about previous salary. The Salary History Fairness Act ends the cycle of pay discrimination by preventing employers from asking prospective employees about their salary history.

The National Landscape

Passed in:

California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington

Introduced in:

Arizona, Florida (123), Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota (12), Mississippi, Missouri (12), Nebraska, North Carolina (12), North Dakota, Ohio (12), Pennsylvania (123), South Carolina, Tennessee (12), Texas (123), Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming
Even if a state has enacted a policy, there may be aspects to be strengthened. We can help identify ways to improve lives in your state. Please reach out to our State Line: 1-833-STATES-1.

In The News

“The ‘What were you making at your last job?’ question can haunt women far into the future... ‘It's a question that can lead to ongoing discrimination... You can see how discrimination at one point in time can have trailing effects that would be damaging.’”
“‘The gender pay gap starts after graduation...Women in the workforce are coming into salary negotiations behind. Offers are calculated largely—not solely—but largely based off of what that candidate is currently earning.’”
“Big companies like Amazon Inc., Bank of America Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co. say they have instructed recruiters not to ask about salary or benefits a candidate received in other positions, as more employers shift away from using past wages as a guide for setting their future pay. The move stems from a slew of new laws around the U.S. aimed at closing wage gaps in the workforce.”


  • Workers
  • Advocates for women and people of color
  • Fair pay advocates


  • Business federations seeking to use prior salary history to set compensation
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The State Line


Who does this help?
This bill prevents employers from asking prospective employees about their past salary, or using that information as a screen for new employees. Since women and people of color have historically earned less for similar work, basing salaries on past pay perpetuates these pay gaps. Pay at a new job should be based on the job, not based on an applicant’s past earnings.
Why is this important?
Research has shown companies with more women in senior positions earn 19% higher equity return and 15% higher net revenue margins. These statistics highlight pay equity can improve the bottom line for businesses and employees.

Model Policy

This act shall be known as the Salary History Fairness Act.

This act amends the Labor Law to establish pay equity by limiting inquiries about salary history.


(a) Definitions. (1) “Applicant” means a prospective employee applying for employment. (2) “Compensation” includes monetary wages as well as benefits and other forms of compensation.

(b) It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer or an employer’s agent to:
  • (1) Rely on the compensation history of an applicant for employment in screening or considering the applicant for employment or determining the compensation for the applicant.
  • (2) Seek the compensation history of an applicant.

(c) On request, an employer shall provide to an applicant for employment the compensation range for the position for which the applicant applied.

(d) After an employer makes an initial offer of employment with an offer of compensation to an applicant, an employer may: (1) rely on the compensation history voluntarily provided by the applicant for employment without prompting from the employer to support a compensation offer higher than the initial wage offered by the employer; or (2) seek to confirm the compensation history voluntarily provided by the applicant to support a compensation offer higher than the initial compensation offered by the employer.

(e) An employer may not retaliate against or refuse to interview, hire, or employ an applicant for employment because the applicant did not provide compensation history, or requested the compensation range in accordance with this section for the position for which the applicant applied.

(f) Enforcement.
  • (1)[DEPARTMENT and the ATTORNEY GENERAL] has the power to enforce this section. Any employer who violates or fails to comply with any requirement of this section shall be deemed in violation of this section and shall be subject to a civil penalty of not less than $1,000 nor more than $5,000 for the first offense and not less than $5,000 nor more than $10,000 for each subsequent violation. DEPARTMENT shall promulgate rules to carry out this section. A civil penalty claim may be filed in any court of competent jurisdiction.
  • (2) Any applicant who has experienced a violation of this section may bring a civil action for compensatory relief, including interest thereon, as well as appropriate equitable relief. A civil action brought under this provision may be commenced no later than two years after the cause of action accrues.