Image courtesy Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.

Image courtesy Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.

New law aims to protect employees, job applicants

It’s now illegal for potential employers to ask you how much you made in your previous job.

  • Wednesday, August 14, 2019 10:30am
  • Business

A recent change to Washington’s Equal Pay and Opportunities Act has added additional protections for employees and job applicants. The updated law, which took effect July 28, bars employers from requesting a job applicant’s wage or salary history, except under certain circumstances.

The law also makes it illegal, in most cases, for employers to request wage or salary history from a previous employer before offering an applicant a job and negotiating salary.

Washington is the third West Coast state to pass legislation prohibiting such inquiries, joining California and Oregon.

EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK

Under the changes, current employees who are offered an internal transfer, a new position or a promotion must be shown the new job’s wage scale or salary range if they request it.

If no wage scale or salary range exists, the employer must show the employee “the minimum wage or salary expectation” that was set before the job was posted or a transfer or promotion was offered.

Employers must also show job applicants the minimum wage or salary of the position they are applying for if they request it after being offered the position.

The ban on requesting salary history applies to all Washington employers, regardless of size. The requirement to disclose salary information to certain applicants and employees applies only to Washington employers with 15 or more workers.

“A gender pay gap is simply unacceptable; people should expect equal pay for equal work,” said Labor and Industries Director Joel Sacks. “Employees and job applicants will now have access to more information about how much jobs pay, and greater protections to make sure they’re being paid fairly.”

RIGHTS FOR CURRENT EMPLOYEES AND JOB APPLICANTS

If employees or job applicants believe their rights have been violated, they can file a complaint with the state Department of Labor and Industries.

Employees can file a complaint if their current or former employer has: provided them with unequal compensation compared to other employees who are similarly employed, based on gender; limited or denied their career advancement opportunities, based on gender; prohibited them from discussing wages; not provided wage or salary information for a new position upon request; or retaliated against them for filing a complaint or exercising protected rights under the Equal Pay and Opportunities Act.

Job applicants can file a complaint if an employer has: sought their wage or salary history; required that their wage or salary history meet certain criteria, such as requiring a minimum salary amount in a previous position to apply for a new position; or not provided minimum wage or salary information upon request for a position offered to them.

Anyone wishing to file a complaint can go to www.Lni.wa.gov/EqualPay. For more information, contact L&I’s Employment Standards Program at 1-866-219-7321.

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