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San Francisco Passes Ordinance to Prohibit Employers from Asking Job Applicants about Salary History

Posted by Eric Kingsley | Aug 23, 2017 | 0 Comments

San Francisco Ordinance Prohibits Employer Salary History Inquiries

Beginning July 1, 2018, it will be illegal for San Francisco employers to ask job applicants to disclose their salary history.

San francisco salary history prohibition


On July 19, 2017, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee signed into law legislation the “Parity in Pay Ordinance” that was passed by the city's Board of Supervisors. The ordinance, which takes effect July 1, 2018, prohibits employers in San Francisco from asking job applicants about their salary history or from considering earnings information in determining whether to hire an applicant and the salary to offer them. 

Parity in Pay Ordinance

Under the Ordinance, “salary” is defined as “an applicant's financial compensation in exchange for labor, including but not limited to wages, commissions, and any benefits.”  “Salary History” is defined as “an Applicant's current and past Salary in the Applicant's current position, or in a prior position with the current Employer or a prior Employer.”

Prohibitions on the use of salary history in hiring include:

  • An employer shall not inquire about an applicant's salary history.
  • An employer shall not consider an applicant's salary history as a factor in determining what salary to offer an applicant. This prohibition applies even if, absent an inquiry from the employer, the applicant discloses salary history to the employer.
  • An employer shall not refuse to hire, or otherwise disfavor, injure, or retaliate against an applicant for not disclosing his or her salary history to the employer.
  • An employer shall not release the salary history of any current or former employee to that person's employer or prospective employer without written authorization from the current or former employee 

The law does not prohibit a prospective employer and job applicant from discussing the applicant's pay expectations or benefits the applicant would have to relinquish to take a new position. If the applicant voluntarily discloses salary information, the employer can consider that information in making a hiring decision. However, the salary history itself cannot be used to pay any employee at a wage rate that is less than that paid to employees of a different sex, race or ethnicity for substantially similar work under similar working conditions, consistent with California Labor Code Section 1197.5.


San Francisco's Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OLSE) will enforce of the ordinance and investigate possible violations. An employee, applicant, organization, or other person may report to the OLSE any suspected violation of the ordinance. When a violation has occurred, OLSE may issue a warning and notice to correct or a penalty of $100, $200, or $500. Penalties for violating the law begin on January 1, 2019.

California Employment Law

Across the country, laws prohibiting employers from asking job applicants about salary history are increasing. This is true for states such as Oregon and Massachusetts, as well as major cities like New York City and Philadelphia. While laws prohibiting salary inquiries spread throughout California, don't hesitate to contact Kingsley & Kingsley to speak with one of our experienced labor lawyers if you have questions about any of California's existing employment laws.

About the Author

Eric Kingsley

In practice since 1996, the firm's lawyer and co-founder, Eric B. Kingsley, has litigated complex cases and written numerous appeals in state and federal courts on behalf of the California law firm Kingsley & Kingsley, including More than 150 collective actions. Mr. Kingsley focuses his practice ...


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