Maine Becomes 8th State With Salary History Inquiry Ban

Author: David B. Weisenfeld, XpertHR Legal Editor

April 16, 2019

Maine has become the 8th state to ban private employers from asking prospective employees about their salary history. On April 12, Gov. Janet Mills signed a law prohibiting employers from inquiring about an applicant's compensation history until after a job offer - including compensation - has been negotiated and made to the applicant.

The new pay equality law amends both the Maine Human Rights Act and the state's equal pay law. It provides that inquiring, either directly or indirectly, about an applicant's salary history before making a job offer is evidence of unlawful employment discrimination.

However, the law permits employers to confirm a prospective employee's compensation history provided that it was voluntary disclosed, without prompting. The measure also allows employers to ask about salary history under any federal or state law that specifically requires disclosing or verifying salary history for employment purposes.

The law also includes a wage transparency provision that restricts an employer from prohibiting employees from disclosing their own wages, or from inquiring about or disclosing another employee's wages, if the purpose in doing so is to enforce the employees' rights.

Maine's House and Senate passed the bill in an effort to eliminate the wage disparity between men and women for performing comparable work. In Maine, women make 82 cents for every dollar men earn while nationally women are paid 80 cents for every dollar paid to men.

Salary history question bans are one of the most significant trends affecting employers. Other states that have already enacted such bans affecting private employers include:

  • California;
  • Connecticut;
  • Delaware;
  • Hawaii;
  • Massachusetts;
  • Oregon; and
  • Vermont.

In addition, several big cities and counties have similar bans in place, most notably New York City and San Francisco. Earlier this month, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order banning the use of salary history in hiring for state jobs.