Employers shouldn’t ask about past salary

Local Law P should be nationwide


At a time when there is much criticism of government, particularly legislatures, there’s some good news. The Albany County Legislature enacted an important worker protection law on Oct. 10. The new law will soon prohibit “employers from requiring job applicants to provide prior or current salary information before offering employment.”

Most of us have probably encountered a situation when applying for a job where the employment application requires us to provide information about present and prior wages and salaries. I have always resented this question, figuring it’s none of a prospective employer’s business how much I currently or previously earned.

There’s a vast body of research establishing that, generally speaking, in the private sector, women are paid less than men for the same work and people of color less than whites. This has much to do with the current weak density of labor unions in the private sector, racism and sexism, and that employment applications often demand prior and current wage information.

Many of us earn much less than we are worth. And if employers know how little we have worked from, they may offer less than if they didn’t have this information. Allowing this kind of question to appear on job applications depresses wages and perpetuates gender and racial wage disparities.

Enactment of this new law (Local Law P) will benefit the tens of thousands of women and people of color who work or might wish to work in Albany County. In fact, not only will they benefit, but all workers will benefit for the enhanced privacy the law provides.

If you don’t live in Albany County, I recommend you examine the bill (on the Albany County Legislature’s website) and work to have a similar law enacted in your county.

Tom Ellis


Categories: Letters to the Editor, Opinion

Leave a Reply