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City of Cincinnati Passes Salary History Ban

October 9, 2019
salaryhistban

City of Cincinnati Passes Salary History Ban

 

On March 13, 2019, the City of Cincinnati passed Ordinance No. 83-2019, which generally prohibits Cincinnati employers with at least fifteen employees from seeking an applicant’s prior salary information. Cincinnati joins a growing number of states and municipalities that have enacted similar bans. Accordingly, Cincinnati employers should determine whether they are subject to the law and, if so, implement necessary changes to existing practices to ensure compliance when it becomes effective on March 13, 2020.

 

“Prohibited Salary History Inquiry and Use”

 

The ordinance specifically prohibits employers from undertaking any of the following actions:

(1) Inquiring about the salary history of an applicant for employment;

(2) Screening job applicants based on their current or prior wages, benefits, other compensation, or salary histories, including requiring that an applicant’s prior wages, benefits, other compensation or salary history satisfy minimum or maximum criteria;

(3) Relying on the salary history of an applicant in deciding whether to offer employment to an applicant, or in determining the salary, benefits, or other compensation for such applicant during the hiring process, including the negotiation of an employment contract; or

(4) Refusing to hire or otherwise disfavoring, injuring, or retaliating against an applicant for not disclosing his or her salary history to an employer.

See Ord. 804-03(a)(1)-(4).

Essentially, effective March 13, 2020, Cincinnati employers will be unable to seek, use, or otherwise rely upon an applicant’s salary history during the hiring process. Notably, the ordinance also requires an employer, “upon reasonable request,” to provide an applicant the pay scale applicable to the position for which the applicant is applying once the employer has made an offer of employment. However, the ordinance makes no reference to inquiring into an applicant’s salary expectations. Regardless, this ordinance will have a significant impact on the typical hiring and salary negotiation process.

Exceptions to the Ordinance

 

The ordinance includes various exceptions that may apply to permit an employer to seek, use, or otherwise rely upon an applicant’s salary history during the hiring process. See Ord. 804-03(d)(1)-(8). For example, the ordinance does not apply to internal transfers and promotions, an applicant’s voluntary disclosure of salary history, “salary, benefits, or other compensation... determined pursuant to procedures established by collective bargaining,” and certain other limited circumstances.

Remedies and Statute of Limitations

 

In the event the ordinance is violated, the applicant can enforce the ordinance and seek “compensatory damages, reasonable attorney’s fees, the costs of the action, and such legal and equitable relief as the court deems just and proper.” A plaintiff must initiate such action within two years.

Conclusion

 

Cincinnati has joined a growing number of jurisdictions outlawing inquiry into an applicant’s salary history. Cincinnati’s new law also requires employers to provide the applicable pay scale in certain circumstances. Cincinnati employers should begin preparations and implement necessary changes to existing practices to ensure compliance with the ordinance when it becomes effective.