New Hiring Laws Set To Close the Pay Gap

Graphic by Dana Davenport, Juli / Noun Project

Graphic by Dana Davenport, Juli / Noun Project

By: Brittney Oliver

Salary is the most uncomfortable yet most important part of an interview. It’s awkward for both candidates and hiring managers, but it determines who gets the job and if the person is getting paid a suitable salary that is livable. 

So why are companies asking for your salary history and what are they doing with it? They are using your history to determine what salary to offer you. Some fair pay advocates believe that this undermines the opportunity to receive equal pay if past salaries come into play. When you are trying to get ahead, it’s unfair to consider the low paying wages from past employers, which will inevitably keep those who have been unfairly paid below their market value. 

Currently, women and people of color make significantly less than their white male counterparts. A recent Glamour article revealed, “The pay gap, on average, stands at 21 cents, with women earning 79 cents for every $1 their male counterparts take home.”

The wage gap has been a hot button issue for years now, but how will legislators help close the gap. Many think that the removal of salary questions will be a great first step.

Recently, Massachusetts became the first state to pass legislation banning the salary questions from the hiring practice. The Bay State’s announcement to their new legislatures comes off the heels of a country-wide debate on fair wages. The state’s announcement included this reasoning,“Because many employers set wages based on an applicant’s previous salary, workers from historically disadvantaged groups often start out behind their white male counterparts in salary negotiations and never catch up. Even though many employers may not intend to discriminate on the basis of gender, race, or ethnicity, asking for prior salary information before offering an applicant a job can have a discriminatory effect in the workplace that begins or reinforces the wage gap.”

New York, California and Colorado have recently proposed similar laws to be discussed in the near future so that employers cannot inquire about salary until they make a job offer.

Until the question becomes illegal in your state, how should you handle the salary questions?

Glamour suggests you dodge the question altogether. “Push back on a potential employer by asking how the question is relevant—or even what's in his or her budget for the position.”

If you work in the private sector than your salary information is confidential. You don’t have to reveal it because your salary information is only public if you work for the government.

Brittney is a freelance writer and marketing communications professional based in New York City. She has written for ESSENCE, Huffington Post, xoNecole, and other online publications. This Tennessee native is a proud Howard University alumna. She is using her career journey to inspire and motivate others through her Lemons 2 Lemonade platform. Follow her on Twitter @Britt_S_O and visit to see what she's working on!