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Pay Transparency Laws by State: What's Required & What's Not

Pay Transparency Laws by State: What's Required & What's Not

We dug into the rise of pay transparency laws across the country and what it means for your rights when discussing pay. Let's see what laws and rights exist in your state.

June 9, 2023

Daniella Flores

What’s the reason we have jobs? To get paid.

You’d think that we should know what we’re going to get paid before we spend time and energy applying for a job, but that isn’t the case for much of the United States. 

For years it’s been normalized for employers to hide pay on job listings, ask for salary history, promote pay secrecy, & avoid reporting on pay data. This gives the employer the upper hand in salary negotiations and raise discussions, which can cause pay gaps & wage discrimination for workers. 

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Wait a second…you guys are getting paid? 🤨#salarytransparentstreet #salarytransparency #paysecrecy

Despite the implementation of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, a significant gender wage gap persists, with women still earning less than men for equivalent work. This wage disparity exists across both private and public sectors, and mostly affects women of color.

Pay transparency laws seek to change that.

Pay transparency laws can differ from state-to-state, city-to-city, and even sector-to-sector. Depending on your location, your job search may be impacted in all the best ways.

Key points:

  • Pay transparency laws help create policies that close marginalizing pay gaps, combat discrimination, and help workers get paid what they deserve.
  • In locations where pay transparency laws are not in effect yet, employers are already starting to disclose pay ranges on listings and becoming part of the movement.
  • With several states having 1 or more laws that require pay transparency in some way, there are now federal bills in the works.

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What are Pay Transparency Laws?

Pay transparency laws govern how employers disclose information about employee compensation, whether that’s internally or externally. They help ensure that all employees are compensated fairly and equitably for the work they do, regardless of gender, race, or other demographic factors, while also helping employees to be able to advocate for themselves with more ease when they negotiate salary in a job offer

Disclosing pay compensation has been a practice for quite some time in state and federal job listings. Requirements for private companies are a little different depending on your location as these laws can vary by jurisdiction.

It's important for both employers and employees to be aware of the pay transparency laws that apply to their jurisdiction to ensure compliance and protect their rights.

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Types of Pay Transparency Laws

There are 4 different types of pay transparency legislation that currently exist in the U.S. This includes laws that require disclosure of pay ranges, salary history bans, policies that prohibit pay secrecy, and requirements around pay data reporting.

Required Disclosure of Pay Range

Pay transparency laws that require pay range disclosure exist in a variety of ways and change from location to location. Some laws require salary ranges to be posted in all job listings while other laws require disclosure upon candidate request or after the first interview.  

“Most of the laws say that employers must post a range that they in ‘good faith’ believe they will pay for the role,” says Lulu Seikaly, Senior Corporate Employment Attorney at PayScale. The pay range posted can be a wide range or smaller range depending on the company.

Salary History Bans

Salary history bans are laws that prohibit employers from asking candidates about their salary history, including the question on applications, and from retaliating against job applicants for not sharing salary history information.

What someone makes at a past job shouldn’t have anything to do with what they make at a new job and can often bar them from negotiating for more. Salary history bans make it possible for candidates and employees to fairly negotiate their salary, as it puts them on a more equal level playing field as the employer during those discussions.

Policies Against Pay Secrecy

Thanks to the National Labor Relations Act, workers are legally protected from employer retaliation for talking about their pay. In order for workers to be fully protected under the act, it’s best to share salary information off company time and property.

While most employees in the private sector are covered by the NLRA, the act doesn’t cover any federal, state, or local government employees.

Other workers that aren’t covered by the NLRA includes: 

  • agricultural laborers
  • domestic service workers of any person or family in a home
  • Workers employed by a parent or spouse
  • independent contractors
  • supervisors
  • railroads and airlines workers

For more information on who is and isn’t covered by the NLRA, visit their jurisdictional standards page.

Required Pay Data Reporting

Reporting on pay data helps to identify and eliminate any inequities in compensation.

There are a handful of states including Illinois & Minnesota that are currently required to report pay and demographic data. This data is usually required to be reported on an annual basis and to their Civil Rights Department, Department of Labor, or other state agency.

For our European friends, the EU recently introduced pay transparency legislation that includes similar pay data reporting requirements. Under the directive, EU companies are required to share information about how much employers pay women and men for the same work. If it’s found from the reporting that the gender pay gap exceeds 5%, legal action will be taken in the form of penalties and fines for employers who break the rules.

Pay Transparency Laws by State & Jurisdiction

Click through the interactive chart below for pay transparency laws across the U.S. including what’s required in your state. To see the full explanation & documentation of each law per state, refer to the full table down below.

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Pay Transparency Laws Table

StateType(s) of Pay Transparency LawEffectiveWho’s AffectedLaw
AlabamaSalary history ban2019All employers statewideJob applicants are not obligated to provide salary history and employers are prohibited from retaliating against them for that refusal. (Clarke-Figures Equal Pay Act)  
Alaska

Salary history ban

Policies against pay secrecy

2023All employers statewideEmployers are not allowed to request salary history from applicants & policies are to be put in place to protect those from retaliation when disclosing pay to others. (SB 39)
California

Salary history ban

Required disclosure of pay range

Required pay data reporting


 

2016Employers with at least 15 employees & 1 of those working in CA & employers with at least 100 employees for pay data reportingEmployers are not allowed to request salary history from applicants & salary ranges are required to be posted to all job listings. Employers also must annually report pay, demographics, and other workforce data to the Civil Rights Department. (Equal Pay Act, AB 2282, & Government Code section 12999)
Colorado

Salary history ban

Required disclosure of pay range

Required pay data reporting


 

2021All employers statewideEmployers prohibited from requesting salary history & employers are required to include compensation in job postings, notify employees of promotional opportunities, & keep job description & wage rate records. (Equal Pay for Equal Work)
Connecticut

Salary history ban

Required disclosure of pay range

Policies against pay secrecy

2021All employers statewide with at least 1 employee working in ConnecticutEmployers must disclose a pay range in job postings, cannot ask for an employee’s salary history, and employee’s have the freedom to discuss pay. (Public Act 21-30, Salary Range Disclosure ActHB 5243)
DelawareSalary history ban2017All employers statewideEmployers can’t request salary history & it can’t be used to screen applicants. (House Bill 1)
GeorgiaSalary history ban2019City agencies in AtlantaCity agencies can’t request salary history on applications, in interviews, or during screening. (Press release)
Hawaii

Salary history ban

Required disclosure of pay range (effective Jan 1, 2024)

2019 for salary history ban & 2024 for pay disclosureAll employers statewideEmployers can’t inquire about salary history & a bill has been proposed to require hourly rate or salary range on job listings.(B. 235 & HI SB 1057)
Illinois

Salary history ban

Required disclosure of pay range (effective Jan 1, 2024)

Required pay data reporting

2019 for salary history ban & 2024 for pay disclosure


 

All employers statewideEmployers can’t ask about salary history & a bill has been proposed to require all employers to disclose salary ranges for both internal & external job postings. Employers must also file & report pay data annually. (Executive Order No. 2018-1, SB 2038 & Equal Pay Registration Certificate (EPRC))
Kentucky

Salary history ban

Required disclosure of pay range (bill proposed)

2018 for salary history ban & TBD for proposed billGovernment offices & agencies in Louisville for salary history bans & all employers statewide for the proposed billCity offices can’t request salary history from applicants. (Lou. Metro Ord. No. 91-2003 & HB198)
Louisiana

Salary history ban

Policies against pay secrecy


 

2017City departments in New Orleans & policies against pay secrecy statewideCity offices can’t seek out salary history but applicants can provide it if it helps them negotiate a higher salary. Statewide employers cannot retaliate against employees that share wage information.(Executive Order MJL 17-01 & La. Stat. tit. 23 § 664)
Maine

Salary history ban

Required disclosure of pay range (bill proposed)

2019 for salary history ban & TBD for proposed billAll employers statewideEmployers can’t ask about past salary history, can’t restrict employees from sharing wage information, & bill has been proposed to require all employers with at least 10 employees to post salary ranges. (LD278 & HB 583)
Maryland

Salary history ban

Policies against pay secrecy

2020All employers statewide

Candidates can refuse to supply salary history & employers can’t retaliate against candidates that don’t provide salary history.(Equal Pay for Equal Work

Section 3-304.1 & HB 123)

Massachusetts

Salary history ban

Required disclosure of pay range (bill approved & going to the senate)

Required pay data reporting

2018 for salary history ban & TBD for approved billAll employers statewideCandidates can refuse to supply salary history & employers can’t screen based on salary history. Bill has been proposed to require salary ranges in job descriptions.(Equal Pay Act (MEPA), HD.2814, Bill H.4109, Bill S.2468)
Michigan

Salary history ban

Policies against pay secrecy

Required disclosure of pay range (bill proposed)

2018 & TBD for proposed billState departments statewideState offices can’t request pay history nor search public records for it, salary history can’t be used to screen applicants, & can’t prohibit employees from disclosing wage information. Bill proposed to require employers to provide employees wage information of similarly situated employees no later than 30 days after the request.(Mich. Comp. Laws § 408.483a(1)(a)-(c) & HB 4406)
MinnesotaRequired pay data reporting2009All public jurisdictions such as cities, counties, & school districtsEmployers are required to report pay data using the local government pay equity reporting process. (Minnesota Rules Chapter 3920 Local Government Pay Equity)
MississippiSalary history ban2019City offices in JacksonCity offices can’t request past salary history. (Jackson Ordinance)
MissouriSalary history ban2019All employers with over 6 employees in city offices in Kansas City & St. LouisCity offices can’t ask for past salary history in both Kansa City & St. Louis. In St. Louis, they can’t screen out applicants who refuse to disclose salary history. (Ordinance No. 19038 & SB 934)
MontanaRequired disclosure of pay range (bill proposed)2023All employers statewideEmployers are required to disclose salary and benefits in job postings (SB 146)
Nevada

Salary history ban

Required disclosure of pay range 

2021All employers statewideEmployers can’t ask about past salary history, screen out applicants who are reduced to provide it, & must provide a pay range after the first interview.(Nev. Rev. Stat. § 613.330(1)(c) & SB 293)
New Hampshire

Policies against pay secrecy


 

2015All employers statewideEmployees can’t be terminated for discussing wages & employers can’t restrict employees' rights to disclose wage information. (N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 275:38-a(I)(b)N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 275:41-b(I)-(II))
New Jersey

Policies against pay secrecy

Required pay data reporting


 

2018All employers statewide & employers entering into contract s with the State of New Jersey for “qualifying services” or “public works” Employers can’t retaliate against employees who disclose their pay to another employee or former employee but employees or applicants may be required to sign waivers or agree to not disclose. Employers also must report wage & demographic data. (N.J. Stat. Ann. § 10:5-12(r) & Allen Equal Pay Act (P.L. 2018, c. 9))
New York

Salary history ban

Required disclosure of pay range 

Policies against pay secrecy


 

2020

2023

All employers statewide with 4 or more employeesEmployers can’t ask for salary history & salary ranges are required on all job listings, promotions, and transfers. They also must state if a position is commission-based. The law also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who discuss their compensation with coworkers.(N.Y. Lab. Law § 194(4)(a)-(b), S.9427-A/A.10477, and 2023 law update)
North CarolinaSalary history ban2019State agencies onlyState agencies can’t request salary history. (Executive Order No. 93)
Ohio

Salary history ban

Required disclosure of pay range 

2020All employers with over 15 employees in Cincinnati & ToledoEmployers can’t request salary history & salary range information is required upon request. (Toledo & Cincinnati)
Oregon

Salary history ban

Required disclosure of pay range 

Required pay data reporting 


 

2017 & 2024 for proposed billAll employers statewideEmployers can’t request salary history & bill has been proposed to require employers to post salary ranges, general description, & benefits, & inform employees yearly of their salary ranges. (SB 1514, Or. Rev. Stat. § 659A.355(1)(a) & SB 925)
Pennsylvania

Salary history ban

Required disclosure of pay range 


 

2017State agencies & city offices & agenciesState agencies & city offices (Pittsburgh) can’t request salary history & all job postings in the state must disclose a pay range. (HB 356)
Rhode Island

Salary history ban

Required disclosure of pay range 


 

2023All employers statewideEmployers can’t ask for salary history information & must disclose a pay range upon candidate request. (Pay Equity Act & RI Equal Pay Law)
South CarolinaSalary history ban2019City agencies & county offices in Columbia & Richland CountyIn Columbia, employers can’t use pay history unless the applicant volunteers that information. In Richland Country, salary history questions are banned from applications, interviews, & screenings. (ORD # 2019-022)
South DakotaRequired Disclosure of Pay Range (bill proposed)2023All employers with 100 or more employeesEmployers are required to disclose salary in job postings. (SB 109)
UtahSalary history ban2018City offices in Salt Lake CityEmployers can’t ask an applicant about their salary history & if they volunteer it, the city can’t use that information. (3.01.10 Gender Pay Equity)
Vermont

Salary history ban

Policies against pay secrecy

Required Disclosure of Pay Range (bill proposed)

2018 & TBD for proposed billAll employers statewide & employers with at least 10 employees for the proposed pay disclosure billEmployers can’t request salary history, are forbidden from stopping employees from disclosing their wages, & a bill has been proposed to require employers to include pay range to applicants & employees. (Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 21, § 495(a)(7)(B)(i)(I)-(II)& H. 116)
VirginaSalary history ban2019 for state agencies & 2023 for allAll employers statewide with at least 25 employees Employers can’t seek wage or salary history. (Senate Bill No. 447)
Washington

Salary history ban

Policies against pay secrecy

Required disclosure of pay range 

2019All employers statewide & employers with at least 25 employees for the pay disclosure requirementEmployers can’t ask about past salary history, can’t prevent employees from disclosing wages or retaliate against them for doing so, & are required to post salary ranges & general benefits in job postings. (Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 49.58.040(1)(a)-(b) & SB 5761 )
Washington DC

Salary history ban 

Required disclosure of pay range (bill proposed)

2018 for salary history ban & TBD for proposed billEmployers with at least 25 employees in Washington DC (federal employees are not included)Proposed bill to require pay range & benefits in job postings. (I-2018-2 & B25-0194)
West Virginia

Salary history ban

Policies against pay secrecy

Required disclosure of pay range 

2023All employers statewideEmployers can’t ask about past salary history, can’t prevent employees from disclosing wages or retaliate against them for doing so, & are required to provide compensation information upon request. (HB 2626)

 

What About Remote Employees?

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Where the laws get confusing is when candidates or employees are remote and located elsewhere that isn’t clarified in the law.

“When Colorado’s law first came out, many companies were posting remote job postings, but the postings were explicitly excluding Colorado applicants. A lawsuit was filed, and Colorado came in and said that if employers do this, they are operating in bad faith and skirting around the law. Ultimately, if the job can be performed in 49 out of 50 states, it can be performed in all 50 states, and employers must comply by posting ranges,” Seikaly explained.

The Rise & Evolution of The Pay Transparency Landscape

The importance of salary transparency is becoming clearer and clearer with each passing day (and interview we film). Pay transparency laws weren't around 10 years ago. Now there are 32 states that have some form of pay transparency law, with more on the way, and a movement that continues to grow.

Due to the rise of pay transparency, Indeed reported that the amount of jobs disclosing salary information more than doubled from 18.4% to 43.7% between February 2020 and February 2023.

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Where to Go From Here

A new Federal bill HR 1599 was proposed to include pay ranges in all job postings, provide pay ranges to applicants, and provide pay ranges to existing employees for their positions. If the bill is passed, pay ranges across the U.S. would be required on all job listings from any “employer providing an employment opportunity” – which is a pretty big deal.

The federal protections being proposed don’t stop there. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Paycheck Fairness Act on March 27, 2023. If the bill ends up getting signed into law, employers nationwide would be prohibited from asking job applicants about their salary history. It would also require them to prove that pay disparities between genders are job-related.

It looks like there’s no stopping pay transparency across the country. This is only the beginning. 

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