AB 168 Prohibits Questions About Previous Compensation

Questions About Previous Compensation in Employment Applications and Interviews Prohibited by AB 168

Trends that seems to be following “ban the box” laws are questions pertaining to previous compensation for job applications that are now being prohibited. This means that employers are no longer allowed to ask job applicants about previous wages that they have earned throughout their professional career. On October 13, 2017, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 168 (AB 168), which would restrict employers’ usage of salary history (including both compensation and benefits) for determining an applicant’s candidacy for employment opportunities with their organization.

AB 168 prevents employers from requesting salary history of job applicants; however, employers will be in compliance if the applicant voluntarily provides such information at their own discretion. Proponents of the bill argue that utilizing previous wages earned could discriminate against the applicant and follow them from employer to employer. Benjamin Ebbink, an attorney with Fisher Phillips in Sacramento, claims that “employers have generally argued that they utilize salary history information for legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons, such as matching their job offers to current market rates.”

AB 168 also requires Employers to provide documentation to each applicant of what the current wage is for the position being sought by the applicant. Movements such as “ban the box” are to promote equal pay among genders. Federal data from 2015 observes that the median wages for women in California are 84.8% of those for men. California joins the bandwagon alongside numerous other states and cities that have equal pay acts similar to the City of New York, San Francisco, and Massachusetts.

It is highly encouraged for employers to start preparing for this trend by reviewing their hiring policy and background screening process. Ensure that your organization is not asking questions about previous compensation or wages in any applications or interviews.