Connecticut Employers Cannot Make Inquiries About Previous Wages

inquiries about previous wages

As the “Ban the Box” laws spread like “wild fire,” so do the trends for employers no longer being allowed to ask about or use previous wages earned when compensating new hires. As a part of the “Equal Pay for Equal Work” movement, Connecticut employers may no longer make inquiries about previous wages or verify this information through employment background checks. This would include total compensation: hourly rate, salary, commission, or bonuses.

On May 22, 2018, Governor Dannel P. Malloy signed into law a legislation called “An Act Concerning Pay Equity.” This pay equity provision will forbid employers from inquiring about wage and salary history during the hiring process for employment. The new legislation will allow all genders and race to be paid based on their fair market value as opposed to receiving compensation based on what they were paid previously. This pay equity provision will take effect on January 1, 2019.

Historically, women who are underpaid compared to their male counterparts will more than likely continue to feel the hardship as they move from employer to employer since pay is based on what was made previously. The same hardship can be reflected in different races as well.

As Tracy Dumont from Avon, Connecticut put it, “Asking employees what their past salaries is, must makes it easier for people not get fair pay for their work.”

Who is considered an “Employer”?

The state of Connecticut identifies an “employer” as an entity with one or more employees. The law defines an employer as any individual, corporation, limited liability company, firm, partnership, public corporation, joint stock association, or voluntary association with at least one employee.

Who is protected by the act?

The act does not define a “prospective employee”; however, it appears to cover any applicant who submits a job application or is interviewed by an employer.

What else is covered in the act?

Employers may not make inquiries about previous wages regarding rates for tasks, piece work, or commission. Employers may not inquire about other elements of the previous pay compensation.

What are the exceptions?

Employers may ask how the applicant’s previous compensation was structured, with the exception of the value. Employers may only inquire about previous wages earned if the state or federal government requires it.

What are the legal ramifications?

The law does give employees the right to bring a claim against an employer in court and has a statute of limitation lasting two years from the alleged violation. Employers may be liable for compensatory damages, attorney fees and costs, punitive damages, and possibly other legal and equitable relief for violating the prohibition.

What should Employers do?

Employers should no longer ask about any previous wages earned including bonuses, commission, stock, and/or equity during the hiring process or interview.

Employment applications should be reviewed to ensure there are no questions asking about previous wages earned. There should be a compensation review conducted for every position the organization is hiring for in order to ensure consistency among male and female pay.

The law does not prohibit employers from asking about salary expectations; however, all positions should have documented compensation with flexibility due to experience and education levels. Organizations are encouraged to consult with an employment law attorney to ensure a full understanding and compliance with similar laws if the employer operates in more than one location.