Salary History Ban Going Into Effect In Suffolk County, New York

Last year, the Suffolk County Legislature unanimously passedthe Restrict Information Regarding Salary and Earnings Act (“RISE”), becoming one of the latest jurisdictions to ban employers from inquiring on an applicant’s salary history or using such information in assessing an applicant’s or employee’s compensation.  The purpose of RISE is to “break the cycle of wage discrimination and close the wage gap” that has historically impacted women and racial and ethnic minorities.

Commencing on June 30, 2019, employers and employment agencies in Suffolk County with four or more employees will be prohibited from:

  • Inquiring (meaning orally or in writing, or otherwise searching for such information), whether in any form of application or otherwise, about a job applicant’s wage or salary history, including but not limited to, compensation and benefits; and
  • Relying on salary history of an applicant for employment in determining the wage or salary amount for such applicant at any stage in the employment process, including at offer or contract.

RISE, however, allows employers to disclose and verify an applicant’s salary history when such disclosure or verification is required under federal, state or local law.  As well, RISE does not apply to the exercise of any right of an employer or employee pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement.

If there is a violation of RISE, an applicant may file an administrative complaint with the Suffolk County Commission on Human Rights, which could imposecivil penalties of up to $50,000, or up to $100,000 if the violation is “willful, wanton or malicious” against a covered employer or agency.  The applicant can also file a civil action, under which she could possibly recover compensatory damages, back pay, attorneys’ fees and costs if she prevails against the employer in the action.

Accordingly, employers in Suffolk County, New York should review their current applications and other hiring policies to confirm that they are not violating RISE that can subject them to civil penalties and litigation.  Furthermore, interviewers should be properly trained on the restrictions of asking about prior salary when interviewing an applicant.  For further information, please contact the Law Offices of Yale Pollack, P.C. at (516) 634-6340or ypollack@yalepollacklaw.com.

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