Oregon Restricts Salary History Questions With Broad Equal Pay Law

Author: David B. Weisenfeld, XpertHR Legal Editor

June 9, 2017

Oregon Governor Kate Brown has signed a law that will prohibit employers from asking job applicants or employees about their salary history. Amendments to the Oregon Equal Pay Act also ban employers from seeking the salary information of prospective employees from their current or former employer.

However, an employer may still ask a prospective employee for written authorization to confirm prior compensation after the employer makes a job offer that includes an amount of compensation.

The Act also prohibits pay discrimination based on any protected characteristic, including race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, veteran status, disability or age.

Governor Brown said, "Pay inequity can keep women in relationships they don't want to be in and can keep women of color working two or three jobs." According to the Oregon Commission for Women, data shows that women are paid just 81 cents for every dollar paid to men. Among Oregon women who work full-time, African-American women are paid 68 cents for every dollar paid to a white male employee while the number drops to 51 cents for Latina women in the state.

The salary history inquiry ban aims to narrow the gap. It will take effect 91 days after the Oregon legislature adjourns its 2017 session, placing the effective date in early October. The Act also provides applicants with a cause of action for violations of the salary history inquiry provision beginning on January 1, 2024.

The Oregon law marks the continuation of a trend on this issue, and resembles a broad Massachusetts pay equity law that restricts employers from seeking an applicant's salary history information. Elsewhere, New York City recently enacted a law banning all salary history inquiries during the employment process, and Philadelphia passed a similar law subject to very limited exceptions.