Salary Secrets: Maryland Salary History Ban Takes Effect October 1

September 3, 2020 Pay Equity

On October 1, 2020, a new Maryland law will prohibit employers from requesting or relying on job applicants’ prior pay history to make decisions about employment or initial pay in most circumstances.  It will also require employers to provide applicants, upon request, with the wage range for jobs for which they apply.

The new law amends Maryland’s Equal Pay for Equal Work (EWEW) law, which applies to all private, state, and local government employers in Maryland.  It adds these new requirements to existing provisions that prohibits pay discrimination, sets equal pay standards, and prohibits employers from requiring employees to keep their pay information confidential.

Salary History Ban Provision

Maryland joins approximately 18 other states and nearly two dozen local jurisdictions in limiting the circumstances in which employers may request or use a job applicants’ wage history information. Salary history restrictions in Virginia and the District of Columbia, in contrast, only apply to government agencies.

Under the new Maryland law, employers may not seek wage history information from applicants or their current or former employers.  In addition, employers may not rely on applicants’ wage history in screening them, considering them for employment, or setting their initial pay.

The new law recognizes one narrow exception:  Once an employer makes a job offer (including a compensation offer), an employer may rely on any wage history information voluntarily provided by an applicant to support a compensation offer higher than its original offer.

Wage Range Disclosures

Maryland’s new law also requires employers to give job applicants, upon request, “the wage range for the position for which the applicant applied.” The phrase “wage range” is not defined in the statute.  In addition, it does not explain the steps employers should take if they do not have pre-determined wage ranges.

Remedies

Employers that violate of the wage history and wage notice requirements are subject to civil penalties of up to $300 for each applicant, and up to $600 for each subsequent violation. Other violations of the EWEW are subject to actions for damages and/or injunctive relief by an applicant or employee or the Maryland Attorney General, in addition to potential civil penalties.

Employer Next Steps

Salary history restrictions like those adopted in Maryland have been spreading across the country since 2016.  We have worked with multi-state employers to develop policies, training materials and scripts for recruiters that comply with the various (and inconsistent) restrictions imposed by state and local law, including – now – Maryland. 

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