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Amazon recently made a voluntary decision to ban the use of salary history questions during the employment application process. Why?
The idea is that banning questions about salary history aims to close the gender pay gap. According to the Census Bureau, women make 80% of every dollar a man makes. Many argue that the gender pay gap widens as women and men age. Furthermore, according to payscale.com, “a woman who is asked about her salary history and declines to disclose earns 1.8 percent less than a woman who discloses. If a man declines to disclose, he gets paid 1.2 percent more on average.”
With this in mind, over 20 states have proposed legislation prohibiting salary history questions during the application process. As of now, Florida is not one of them. But employers in Florida should keep in mind that laws can rapidly change at the local and state level. As Fortune Magazine reports, Google, Facebook and Cisco have all been required by California to drop the inquiry into salary history. The first state to pass a ban on salary history questions was Massachusetts in 2016. Oregon, California, and Delaware soon followed.
In a state without a prohibition, should an employer ask the salary history question? Job applicants are generally not comfortable answering this question, so avoiding the salary history question may ease the hiring process. However, each employer must make a business decision on whether salary history will be in its best interest. If a company elects to sidestep the salary history question, it should be prepared to update application forms and train interviewers and managers to avoid salary disclosure questions during interviews.
*Special thanks to Thomas Raine, who assisted in the drafting of this post. Thomas is a second year Juris Doctor Candidate at the University of Miami School of Law.