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Should an employer be allowed to ask for your salary history?

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Production staff on a weekly fashion magazine edit in a temporary office.
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California is considering a proposal to bar employers from asking job applicants about how much they made at their previous jobs.

The bill would also require private employers to disclose a job’s pay range, if that information is requested. AB 168 would still allow a job seeker to disclose their salary history voluntarily.

Proponents of the bill believe banning the practice could help narrow the gender wage gap, and could prevent discrimination against older workers. Part of the reasoning is that the history of the gender pay disparity makes it more likely that a woman will have a lower salary, and this legislation would ensure that she wouldn’t have to contend with that when negotiating salary for a new position.

Opponents argue that salary history is a crucial piece of information an employer needs in order to make a sound hiring decision, that this bill would create hurdles for employers and could open them up to expensive litigation.

Do you think an employer should be allowed to ask for your salary history? What successful or negative experiences have you had when asked to provide your salary history during the hiring process? If you are an employer, do you find it helpful to have an applicant’s salary history when hiring or setting their salary?

Guest host Libby Denkmann in for Larry Mantle


Rebecca Kieler, consultant at Kieler Career Consulting, based in the Bay Area, with 20-plus years of experience in the field; she’s worked with companies such as Sun Micro Systems, Johnson & Johnson, and Yahoo

Mike Belote, lobbyist for the California Employment Law Council