In March 2019, the City of Cincinnati became the latest in a small but growing list of states and municipalities prohibiting employers from asking prospective employees about their prior compensation. Citing concerns about the perpetuation of pay discrimination against women in the workforce, the legislation bars Cincinnati employers with 15 or more employees from asking applicants for positions in Cincinnati for their salary histories.

What does the law say?

The law prohibits employers from:

  • Asking for information about an applicant’s current or prior compensation, including salary, benefits, and other compensation, such as bonuses
  • Screening applicants based on their salary histories
  • Relying on an applicant’s salary history (even if volunteered by the applicant) when determining whether to make an offer of employment or determining the amount of compensation offered to an applicant
  • Lastly, refusing to hire or retaliating against an applicant who refuses to provide his or her salary history

The applicant may sue an employer for damages, including attorney’s fees, if the employer violates this law. The applicant has two years from the date of the violation to bring a lawsuit.

There’s a catch. Actually, there are two catches.

Cropped shot of a man and woman completing paperwork together at a desk

This legislation does not go into effect for a full year. And, a similar law in Philadelphia was ultimately struck down by a federal district court in a lawsuit brought by its local chamber of commerce. So, Cincinnati employers may continue to ask their applicants for and consider salary histories until March 2020, when the practice must be discontinued . . . unless the law is challenged and a court strikes it down.