Toledo Enacts Ban on Salary Inquiries July 8, 2019

McCarthy Lebit attorney Frank George writes about a Toledo ban on salary history inquiries.

On June 26, 2019 the Toledo City Council passed an ordinance prohibiting employers from requesting information related to a job applicant’s salary history.

The law, which will take effect next year, makes it an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer to inquire about applicants’ salary histories, screen applicants based on their current or prior wages, rely on salary in making employment decisions, and/or refuse to hire, or retaliate against, an applicant for failing to disclose his or her salary history.

Noncompliance can have serious consequences for employers.  Toledo’s ordinance creates a private cause of action for impacted applicants, allowing them to seek compensatory damages, attorneys’ fees, and “such legal and equitable relief as the court deems just and proper.”  For this reason, Toledo employers would be well-advised to review their current hiring practices.

The new law is designed to combat persistent pay inequity in the workplace.  In the “Summary & Background” provision, the ordinance says: “Toledo City Council has determined that in order to reduce pay inequity for all, wages should be based on job responsibilities and level of experience of the applicant rather than wages earned from prior employment.”  Because women—especially minority women—have historically earned less than men, the law intends to disrupt a cycle of disparate wages by prohibiting employers from asking about an applicant’s salary history.

Toledo’s ordinance is representative of a larger trend.  Over the past few years, 18 states enacted state-wide prohibitions on salary inquiries, and in March of this year, Cincinnati became Ohio’s first municipality to pass such a ban.

Though Ohio has not yet passed a state-wide law prohibiting salary inquiries, this is a matter that should be of interest to Ohioans.  Given the speed at which other states have begun enacting these prohibitions, it would not come as a surprise if Ohio soon followed suit.

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