Despite state and federal laws designed to combat pay discrimination, a persistent gender wage gap remains in America. Even at the beginning of their careers, women earn less than their male colleagues performing the same job with the same education and experience, and that wage gap grows over the course of women’s careers.
“What is your current or prior salary?” is a question that many job applicants dread, with good reason. Employers’ use of this information in the hiring process has a disproportionately negative impact on women and people of color, who face conscious and unconscious discrimination in the workplace and, consequently, are paid lower wages, on average, than white, non-Hispanic men.
Employers’ requests for an applicant’s salary history in the hiring process, and reliance on that information to determine compensation, forces women and, especially women of color, to carry lower earnings and pay discrimination with them from job to job. As a result, several federal courts and an increasing number of cities and states are prohibiting employers from basing compensation on an employee’s salary history.