Massachusetts Passes Law Barring Employers From Asking Applicants About Their Salaries

Charlie_Baker_official_portraitMassachusetts has passed a law (signed by Gov. Charlie Baker) which for the first time would bar employers from asking job applicants about their salaries.  It is designed to prevent pay disparity for women. However, it could create uncertainty on how to address a key piece of information used to gauge wage offers for employees.

The law was passed unanimously in the Massachusetts state legislature and signed by a Republican governor. It is a measure strongly supported by Hillary Clinton.

This is a major change to job interviews.  The new law states in part:

 (c) It shall be an unlawful practice for an employer to:

(1) require, as a condition of employment, that an employee refrain from inquiring about, discussing or disclosing information about either the employee’s own wages, including benefits or other compensation, or about any other employee’s wages;

(2) screen job applicants based on their wage, including benefits or other compensation or salary histories, including by requiring that an applicant’s prior wages, including benefits or other compensation or salary history satisfy minimum or maximum criteria; or request or require as a condition of being interviewed, or as a condition of continuing to be considered for an offer of employment, that an applicant disclose prior wages or salary history;

(3) seek the salary history of any prospective employee from any current or former employer; provided, however, that a prospective employee may provide written authorization to a prospective employer to confirm prior wages, including benefits or other compensation or salary history only after any offer of employment with compensation has been made to the prospective employee;

So it appears that the employee can disclose the information or it can be sought with authorization after an offer is made.  It is not clear what will be prohibited in terms of discussion of salary when an applicant is asked about the salary that he or she expects.  The law is likely to create gray areas for interviewers as to what is considered an inquiry into wages.  Moreover, it could be argued that the most direct way of addressing wage disparity is to compare the actual wages as opposed to barring interview questions.  Conversely, the law will force employers to offer wages at what is viewed as the market rate as opposed to individual’s expected or accepted earnings.

What do you think?

 

52 thoughts on “Massachusetts Passes Law Barring Employers From Asking Applicants About Their Salaries”

  1. @sqeek

    You are quite the songstress tonite my friend. So whassup with all the chatter about Hillary falling and neurological concerns? Any theories? or songs?

  2. @sqeek

    Methinks you were “making a funny” by saying you were once fond of HRC =) Thanks for adding the muzak to your lyrics!

  3. @Paul

    yah – like those ads Clinton ran which featured Obama looking like Kunte Kinte in full tribal regalia? We must unite and ensure she will be defeated. Whassup with McCain btw?

  4. @squeek

    You never disappoint – cept when you are being ridiculously racist =) Luv your newest parody — what is the music though?

  5. Sqeeky –
    Is it possible you really Really REALLY don’t like Hillary ? Just askin’ …..

  6. @phillyT

    re: “Malignant narcissists don’t care about anyone, not workers, not their families.” So this describes both HRC and Trump although I would apply “malignant” to HRC only.

    I don’t see Jill Stein as a conspiracy nut. I wish she had chosen a different VP, but it is what it is. I am glad she is on the ballot in SC and I can vote for her.

  7. And as much as I like the Greens, Jill Stein is a conspiracy nut and a general flake.

  8. Autumn,
    If you think Trump won’t sell out in ten seconds, you’re living in a dream. Malignant narcissists don’t care about anyone, not workers, not their families. No one. Trump lies faster than people can count.

  9. @PhillyT

    re: “The free market lasts about 20 seconds without good referees. Power almost always accrues to the corporation/owner, and that included information power, political influence, legal power, financial power, etc. The government is supposed to be for the people, of the people, by the people. Businesses and corporation do not need any help.”

    I agree. This is precisely why we must make sure that HRC (or Gary Johnson) get nowhere near the White House. The TPP is the ultimate corporate coup d’etat.

    JillnotHill 2016

  10. The free market lasts about 20 seconds without good referees. Power almost always accrues to the corporation/owner, and that included information power, political influence, legal power, financial power, etc. The government is supposed to be for the people, of the people, by the people. Businesses and corporation do not need any help.

    And Donald Trump? Who offshores everything? The only thing he makes here in the US are bankrupt casinos and defrauded small business people. I was going to copy and paste the list of his products he makes elsewhere, but it’s too huge to post here. And I mean YUGE: Check it out:

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1CXlw6yBpcVnwmQe29Wi06WcE6pWtaxQiH_NXzd7N9Og/pubhtml

  11. Is that how you see it Jay, no “middle-ground”? More and more government control or anarchy? Here’s the irony; you don’t want to allow an employer to have the power to ask a prospective new hire to provide this information; an employer by the way that this prospect can walk away from. But you will empower government to direct the hiring practices of business; a government by the way you and the employer cannot walk away from. What you utilitarians always fail to consider is the power you give government to do FOR you will be the same power they will use AGAINST you. Oops!

  12. Olly –
    The “free-market thingy” isn’t free, and never was. The deck is always stacked in favor of the most powerful. The “golden rule” — those with the gold, make the rules. This law just levels the playing field, a bit.

    Evidently, in the view of some commenters here, if there were just no laws, rules, or regulations, prosperity and enlightenment would just ooze out of the woodwork. To change the metaphor, I think instead that without someone to guard the henhouse, the foxes would eat all the chickens.

  13. “So I view asking for salary history as being in the same category as asking a woman if she is planning to get pregnant anytime soon. None of their business.”

    How pathetically weak we’ve become that we need a law to tell a potential employer “I will not disclose that information”. When you’ve enabled your government to force employers to hire ALL applicants under terms specified by the state, THEN you’ll have finished this whole free-market thingy that once made this nation great.

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