Cincinnati Adopts Salary History Ban

Labor & Employment @lert

Date: March 14, 2019

On March 13, 2019, Cincinnati City Council passed an ordinance that will bar employers from asking applicants for their salary history. The law is intended to address wage disparity for women and minorities. Cincinnati joins the growing number of municipalities and states that have passed salary history bans.

Cincinnati’s ordinance will take effect in one year and applies to employers located within the City of Cincinnati that have 15 or more employees within the City of Cincinnati.

Under this ordinance, employers:

  • Cannot inquire about an applicant’s salary history or request reports or other information to determine or verify salary history (defined as current or prior wages, benefits or other compensation).
  • Cannot rely on salary history to screen applicants, make hiring decisions or set compensation.
  • May communicate the proposed or anticipated salary or salary range.
  • May, without inquiring about salary history, engage in a discussion with the applicant about their salary expectations, including unvested equity or deferred compensation that an applicant would forfeit or have cancelled by virtue of the applicant’s resignation from their current employer.
  • May seek prior productivity information, such as sales or revenue reports.
  • Must provide candidates with the pay scale for the position if the candidate has been extended a conditional offer of employment and requests the pay scale.

Applicants are afforded a private right of action under the ordinance and can recover compensatory damages, reasonable attorney’s fees, costs and equitable relief for violations.

The ordinance may be subject to legal challenges. Cincinnati City Council cited recent studies that show a connection between requesting salary history information and gender-based wage disparity as evidence of the need for the ban.

What It Means

To prepare for this new law, Cincinnati employers should:

  • Review job application forms and interview questions and otherwise modify the hiring process to ensure that salary information is not solicited from applicants who would be hired to perform work within the city.
  • Train talent acquisition, human resources and hiring managers on how to handle salary negotiations and a candidate’s voluntary disclosure of salary history information in light of this ordinance.
  • Be prepared to provide pay scale information to candidates post-offer, if requested.
  • Review how to best frame requests for production information.

The trend of states and municipalities passing salary history bans is not expected to end anytime soon. All employers should review the laws in the locations in which they are hiring, and proactively consider how to approach setting compensation in the absence of salary history information.


If you have questions about the ordinance, or about how to prepare for its likely implementation, please contact:

Heather M. Muzumdar

or any member of our Labor & Employment group.

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