Joining New York City, Albany County, and Westchester County, Suffolk County has become the latest jurisdiction to pass a bill that prevents employers from inquiring into the salary and benefits history of job applicants. Designed to establish pay equality and to “break the cycle of wage discrimination,” the RISE Act (Restricting Information on Salaries and Earnings), would prohibit any employer in Suffolk County from requesting or seeking the wage history (including the current or previous salary) of a prospective “new” employee during every stage of the hiring process.
According to the Legislative Intent of the bill, using such information to establish salary/benefits for newly hired positions perpetuates wage discrimination and the “wage gap” experienced by women, racial/ethnic minorities, and individuals who are returning to the workforce after an extended period. The legislation cites studies finding that women, along with ethnic and racial minorities, have historically encountered lower wages than their white male counterparts.
Specifically, the law would amend the Suffolk County Human Rights Law and prohibit an employer from asking a prospective employee (either verbally or in writing) about his/her salary and benefits history, or to conduct a search of publicly available records or reports for such information. While the Legislative Intent of the bill states the purpose of the law is to prohibit the use of this type of information when setting compensation rates for “new employees,” the suggested revisions to the Suffolk County Human Rights Law themselves do not expressly state the law is inapplicable to internal transfers/promotions. There are, however, carve outs for those employers who are required to gather such information pursuant to applicable law, and those employers covered by a collective bargaining agreement.
If County Executive Steve Bellone signs the bill, it is expected to go into effect on or about June 30, 2019. Once effective, all Suffolk County employers will need to review their hiring practices (including a review of applicable job applications) to ensure legal compliance.
The text of the bill can be found here.