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Job Seekers Can't Be Asked Previous Salary Under New Westchester Law

This measure, which will be signed on National Equal Pay Day, prohibits employers from asking prospective employees about their previous salary history.
This measure, which will be signed on National Equal Pay Day, prohibits employers from asking prospective employees about their previous salary history. Video Credit: Official Westchester Gov Videos

Westchester County Executive George Latimer signed a bill that makes it illegal for companies to require an applicant to reveal his or her previous salary.

The County Board of Legislators passed the legislation on Monday night. Latimer signed the bill Tuesday. It is aimed at reducing gender pay inequity while protecting job hunters who were downsized or are returning to work after a long break.

The new provision, passed unanimously by a vote of 16–0, will ban businesses in Westchester from asking about a job seeker's previous salary history as a requirement in a job application or interview.

Workers, regardless of gender, who leave or lose higher-paying jobs often face resistance when they're looking for lower-paying work. Employers might wrongly assume they can't afford the job seeker, or that applicant will be unhappy or more likely to leave sooner.

Board Chairman Ben Boykin of White Plains said, "This is a crucial step in combating women's pay inequality, but it also removes a barrier of discrimination -- whether intentional or unintentional -- that will help all job seekers, including older workers, or workers who are making career transitions, or those returning to work after raising children, and it will do so at no cost to businesses."

Majority Leader Catherine Parker, D-Rye, said, “The Democratic caucus has championed the salary history legislation from its inception because we believe it will give Westchester residents a chance for real parity in wages and will reduce the possibility of conscious or unconscious bias based on gender, race or age.”

Legislator Margaret Cunzio, R-Mount  Pleasant, said, “This legislation brings this issue to the forefront and ultimately to a place of fairness. If you are applying for the same job- you should be treated and compensated the same way- fairly.”

Studies have found that women are less likely to negotiate salaries than men are.

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