October 21, 2019

October 21, 2019

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October 18, 2019

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Washington Enacts Restrictions on Applicant Wage and Salary Questions

Washington State will have new restrictions on what employers can ask applicants regarding their wage and salary history starting July 28, 2019. The new legislation will prohibit employers from seeking wage or salary history from job applicants in the state. Additionally, employers will not be able to require that an applicant’s prior salary history meet certain criteria. There are some limited exceptions to this general rule. First, employer can confirm an applicant’s wage or salary if the applicant has voluntarily disclosed that history. Second, the employer can confirm the information after having negotiated and made an employment offer.

The law gives disclosure rights to an applicant as well. Namely, the applicant can ask the employer for minimum wage or salary information for the position in which the applicant. This is true after the employer has made an offer to the applicant, and if the employer has 15 or more employees.

The passage of this legislation reflects the continued trend to eliminate any wage gap between men and women by prohibiting the use of salary history to determine an employee’s future salary. Over 20 states and local municipalities have enacted salary history inquiry bans in some capacity over the past couple of years.

Putting it Into practice: Employers hiring in Washington should take care to review their hiring practices generally, to ensure compliance with these new requirements.

Copyright © 2019, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP.


About this Author

Elfin Noce Business Trial Attorney

Elfin L. Noce is an Associate in the Business Trial Practice Group in the firm's Washington, D.C. office.


  • Litigation


  • Communications


  • J.D., University of Missouri, Columbia, 2005

  • B.A., Truman State University, 2000


  • *Not admitted in District of Columbia; supervised by partners of the firm

  • Missouri

Shawn D. Fabian, Labor and Employment Law, Attorney, Sheppard Mullin, Law firm

Shawn Fabian is an attorney in the Labor and Employment Practice Group in the firm's Chicago and New York offices.

Mr. Fabian’s practice encompasses all aspects of labor and employment law, with an emphasis on litigation, proactive counseling and internal investigations to management-side clients.  He regularly represents clients before federal and state courts across the country, including in Illinois, New York, Florida, and Texas, and before administrative agencies, including the Wage and Hour Division of the United States Department of Labor (US DOL), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and various state and municipal human rights commissions and labor agencies.  He also regularly represents clients in American Arbitration Association (AAA), JAMS, and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitrations and in other avenues of alternative dispute resolution.