Time to Remove Salary History from Job Applications

by Stoel Rives LLP
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Stoel Rives LLP

Starting this Friday, October 6, employers in Oregon can no longer ask job applicants about their salary history. As part of the Equal Pay Act that Oregon enacted earlier this year, prohibiting questions about salary history is an attempt to combat implicit wage bias. In passing the Act, the Legislature may have recognized that systemic wage inequality is perpetuated when employees are paid based on what they made before.

Accordingly, you should immediately remove any questions about salary history from your job applications. You should also instruct interviewers not to ask applicants about salary history.

Instead of asking about salary history, we recommend two approaches.

  • Create a salary range for each position. The range should be based on the position’s value to the company, independent of any qualifications of the employee filling the position. You can include this range on your job applications. Then the most qualified candidates can secure the upper end of that range while less qualified applicants can enter the position at the lower end of the range.
  • Ask about an applicant’s salary expectations, not history. Asking about expectations is permissible and can help guide you in fitting the applicant into the salary range. You also may request written permission from a prospective employee to confirm their previous salary with prior employers, but only after you have made a job offer that contains the compensation amount.

Enforcement of this provision is delayed until January 1, 2019, but we recommend employers get a head start: eliminate salary history inquiries from job applications and interviews and compensate employees based on the value of the position.

The other components of the Equal Pay Act are not effective until January 1, 2019. You can read about them in our previous blog post.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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