Recently, California enacted legislation designed to remove some of the traditional barriers to employment. The new law bans most employers from asking about criminal history and past salary history in an initial application. Once an applicant has been offered a position, a criminal background check may be performed for certain occupations, but the idea behind the law is to put all applicants on equal footing during the hiring process. It is far too easy for an employer to skip over an applicant with a criminal history. The ban on asking about salary history is designed to require employers to make a salary offer based upon the demands of the position and the strength of the applicant. If the prospective employer knows how much an applicant was making before, they would know the base amount an employee took in the past and this would let them make a lower offer in many cases.
As is discussed in a recent article from the Los Angeles Times, that stated reason for banning asking about salary history, among others, is to narrow the gender gap in pay. To get an idea of the actual pay gender gap, we can look to data from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research which shows that while women make up nearly half of the entire workforce, the gap is still very much in existence and women earn on average, 80 cents on the dollar as compared to a man in the same or similar job. Continue reading