Published on January 9th, 2019
As an in-demand technologist, do you know your rights when interviewing for your next career move? Salary history bans are sweeping across the nation, forcing employers to modify how they recruit and requiring candidates like you to stay up-to-date on the latest laws. Here in Boston, we’re helping professionals navigate those waters, but it’s a topic that could quickly affect technologists everywhere.
Where Have Salary History Bans Been Passed?
Currently, 21 states, counties, and cities have passed a salary history ban. Most of these locations already have it in place right now, while others have it taking effect in the near future:
How Do the Laws Differ?
Not every salary history ban is exactly the same. Some allow employers to consider salary history if you volunteer it, while others don’t. Certain bans require employers to give you pay scale information if requested or allow them to ask about history only after extending an offer. For some locations, bans don’t apply when seeking an internal position in your current company. Still, others prohibit an employer from seeking out your salary history from public information or from taking disciplinary action if you talk about your salary with coworkers.
There are many nuances to these laws, so it’s important to get educated on the ones that affect you. In Massachusetts for example, “wages” or “salaries” are defined in broad terms, encompassing “all forms of remuneration for employment.” While most bans will use a similar definition, technologists must think about what their past compensation entailed before getting too deep into the interview process.
How Can I Protect Myself?
Salary history ban laws raise a number of situations where you’ll want to take extra care in order to protect your rights:
They Ask Anyway
If a potential employer breaks the law and asks about salary history, use it as an opportunity to turn the question around with something like “Massachusetts law prohibits that question, but let’s talk about career paths that stem from this role instead.” While you can also file a legal complaint, take the time to consider if it was an honest mistake. Did the hiring manager accidentally fall into a habit after decades of asking that question in interviews? Was this employer ignorant of the law, or did they break it knowingly? Is that someone you would want to work for anyway?
With bans in place, employers may ask about your salary expectations instead of your history. For that reason, it’s a best practice to come prepared with a rough idea of what a technologist typically makes in the role. There are many avenues for discovering this information, including talking to friends, chatting with industry peers in meetup groups, researching online, picking the brain of your career mentor, or downloading a trusted resource such as our Technology Salary Guide.
Location, Location, Location
When applying for a job in another city or state, you should know the law in that locale. For example, if your job interview takes place in NYC but the job at stake is in a different location without a salary history ban, then the NYC salary history ban still applies to you. Likewise, if you live outside of NYC but are applying for a job based in NYC, the law applies again. In the age of video interviews and remote work, it’s necessary to look up the law where you live and where the interview, company, and job are located.
Make It Easy on Yourself
Salary history bans affect many industries, but when it comes to in-demand roles in hot fields like technology, big dollar figures are at play. There are so many factors going into compensation that, along with the slight differences between each ban, it can be confusing to deal with it all on your own. Getting educated will help, but partnering with a proven staffing firm like BridgeView IT is often the easiest way to land great technology roles at healthy compensation rates.