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How much were you paid at your last job is a routine question potential employers ask applicants during the interview process. However, on May 22, 2018, Connecticut became the fifth state to ban salary history inquiries by employers or their agents. Governor Malloy signed Public Act 18-8, An Act Concerning Pay Equity (“Act”), into law after a near-unanimous vote in the Connecticut legislature. The Act goes into effect on January 1, 2019.

The salary history ban is the latest part of the Governor’s goal to end discriminatory gender-based pay gaps. Previously, in 2015, the Governor signed into law legislation that prohibited businesses from preventing workers from discussing their specific wages and compensation related information with co-workers. By banning potential employers inquiring into an applicant or prospective employee’s previous salaries, the Act is intended to stop employers from on passing discriminatory gender-based compensation to the next employer. Employers often pay slightly higher wages than an applicant’s previous wages. If that potential employee had been subjected to gender-based disparity in pay, the discriminatory pay would continue into the employee’s new job.

However, the Act has limitations. The salary history ban does not apply to any actions by an employer or its agents if the disclosure is required or authorized under federal or state laws. Furthermore, as long as the potential employer does not ask about their monetary value, the employer can ask the applicant about other elements of the applicant’s previous compensation structure. Finally, if a prospective employee voluntarily discloses salary history, he or she falls outside the Act’s coverage.

The Act does not prevent an employer from using voluntarily provided pay history when deciding a prospective employee’s possible compensation. The Act only prevents a future employer from asking about the applicant’s previous pay. Employers can still probe a future employee about what they consider fair compensation for the position in question.

If an employer violates the requirements of the Act, it faces liability for compensatory damages, attorney’s fees and costs, punitive damages, and other legal and equitable relief as a court may decide. Therefore, Connecticut employers must adjust and make appropriate changes to their hiring practices to conform to the Act’s provisions by 2019. Potential employees should also be aware that as of January 1, 2019, they do not need to provide their salary histories when applying for jobs within the state.

If you have any questions about the effect of the Act on you, please contact Mitchell & Sheahan, P.C., and one of our attorneys can help you.