Washington Joins Growing Number of States to Limit Salary History Inquiries

On May 9, 2019, Washington governor Jay Inslee signed House Bill 1696, “an act relating to wage and salary information,” adding sections to the existing Equal Pay Act, as amended by the Equal Pay Opportunity Act. The new sections, which will take effect on July 28, 2019, are intended to promote equal pay by limiting inquiries into salary history and requiring wage scale transparency. Starting July 28, 2019, employers with 15 or more employees are:

·         prohibited from seeking wage or salary history of an applicant (either from the applicant or a former employer). Employers may, however, confirm an applicant’s wage or salary history only (1) if the applicant voluntarily discloses such information, or (2) after the employer has negotiated and made an offer of employment with compensation; and

·         required to disclose, upon request of an applicant after the employer has initially offered said applicant the position, the minimum wage or salary for the position offered. Similarly, the employer must provide an existing employee with the wage scale or salary range of a position offered to the employee for internal transfer to a new position or promotion. When no wage scale or salary range exists, the employer must provide the minimum wage or salary expectation set by the employer prior to posting the position, making a position transfer, or making the promotion.

Penalties for violations may include, but are not limited to, fines, actual and statutory damages, interest, and reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. Employers should review and revise application and interview questions and train hiring managers accordingly.

Washington’s new law is similar to legislation trending throughout the nation, including in the other Pacific Coast states of California and Oregon.

This blog article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Consult legal counsel with questions concerning specific facts and circumstances.


Written by Brittany Nicholls