Cincinnati Bans Employers from Asking about Salary History

Cincinnati Bans Salary History Questions - Pathway HR Solutions

April 8, 2019

It will soon be illegal for Cincinnati employers to inquire about applicants’ salary history or rely on known salary histories.  This means that employers will have to rely on market trends for deciding compensation to perspective employees.

Cincinnati’s City Council passed Ordinance No. 0083-2019, “Prohibited Salary History Inquiry and Use,” which goes into effect on March 13, 2020.  The ban prohibits all companies with 15 or more employees from inquiring about salary history during the hiring process.   Supporters of the ordinance believe that relying on previous salary history perpetuates wage inequity.  They are hopeful that the new law will ensure that wages for women and people of color will be based on job responsibilities and experience, and lead to higher and fairer wages for both groups.

Cincinnati is not the first municipality to implement a salary history ban.  According to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), several states and cities already have bans in place, including:

States

  • California – all employers in the state
  • Connecticut – all employers in the state
  • Delaware – all employers in the state with more than four employees
  • Hawaii – all employers in the state
  • Illinois – all state agencies, as established through executive order
  • Massachusetts – all employers in the state
  • Michigan – all state agencies, as established through executive order
  • New Jersey – all state agencies, as established through executive order
  • New York – all state agencies, as established through executive order
  • North Carolina – all state agencies, as established through executive order
  • Oregon – all employers in the state
  • Puerto Rico – all employers in the territory
  • Pennsylvania – all state agencies, as established through executive order
  • Vermont – all employers in the state

Cities

  • Albany County, New York – all employers in the county
  • Atlanta, Georgia – all city agencies
  • Chicago, Illinois – all city agencies
  • Cincinnati, Ohio – all employers in the city with more than 15 employees
  • Kansas City, Missouri – all city agencies
  • Louisville, Kentucky – all city agencies
  • New Orleans, Louisiana – all city agencies
  • New York, New York – all employers in the city
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – all employers in the city
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – all city agencies
  • Salt Lake City, Utah – all city agencies
  • San Francisco, California – all employers in the city
  • Westchester County, New York – all employers in the county

The City of Cincinnati has formed a task force to develop more detailed rules implementing the new ban.  While there is no planned punishment for employers who violate the new law, workers will be able to take legal action if an employer is non-compliant.  The ban states,

If an employer, employment agency, or employee or agent thereof fails to comply with any provision of this chapter, the applicant shall have a private cause of action to enforce the provisions of this chapter against the employer, employment agency, or employee or agent thereof for compensatory damages, reasonable attorney’s fees, the costs of the action, and such legal and equitable relief as the court deems just and proper. An action for violation of this Chapter shall be commenced within two years after the cause of action accrued. “ 

There is no word yet on whether the State of Ohio plans to join the growing list of jurisdictions implementing salary history bans.