Salary History Employment Inquiry Ban Now in Effect in Columbus, OH

By Jana Bjorklund, GovDocs Senior Counsel and
Director, Employment Law and Compliance
Published March 7, 2024

Salary History Employment Inquiry Ban Now in Effect in Columbus Ohio March 2024 GovDocs

The Ordinance was passed in an effort to address existing wage gaps affecting women and underrepresented groups, and to promote pay equity across the city

As of March 1, 2024, employers in Columbus, Ohio are prohibited from inquiring about a job applicant’s salary history during the hiring process pursuant to the city’s Ordinance 0709-2023 (Ordinance). The Ordinance was passed in an effort to address existing wage gaps affecting women and underrepresented groups, and to promote pay equity across the city. Columbus is now the third city in Ohio to implement a salary history ban, following in the footsteps of Cincinnati and Toledo. 

Covered Employers 

The Ordinance applies to all employers with 15 or more employees in Columbus, including job placement and referral agencies when operating on behalf of a covered employer. The Ordinance, however, does not include any local, state, or federal government except for the city of Columbus. 

Prohibited Inquiries 

Employers are now prohibited from the following: 

  • Asking about an applicant’s salary history 
  • Screening applicants based on current wages or salary histories 
  • Relying solely on the salary history of an applicant in deciding whether to offer employment, determine salary, benefits, or other compensation
  • Refusing to hire or retaliate against an applicant for failure to disclose salary history 

The salary history ban does not include discussions with applicants about objective measures of the applicant’s productivity, such as revenue, sales, or production reports. 

Exceptions Under the Ordinance 

There are several exceptions under the Ordinance, and the ban does not include the following: 

  • Actions taken under a federal, state, or local law that specifically authorizes reliance on salary history to determine an employee’s compensation 
  • Internal transfers or promotions 
  • Voluntary and unprompted disclosure of salary history by applicant 
  • Applicants rehired within three years of their most recent termination date with employer, provided employer still maintains past salary history 
  • Positions with salary, benefits, and compensation determined under a collective bargaining agreement 
  • Disclosure of salary in connection with a background check of non-salary related information; however, the disclosure should not be relied upon for determining salary, benefits, or other compensation. 

Key Takeaways 

Violations of the Ordinance can result in civil penalties up to $5,000. As such, employers in Columbus should make certain that questions posed to applicants during the hiring process do not include questions about current salary history or wages. Employers may inquire about salary expectations instead. Additionally, employers should ensure that not only HR, but also managers and anyone else involved in the hiring process understand this law and how to comply with it.

Keep up with new ordinances like this and more legislation at the state, county, and city levels by subscribing to Employment Law News.

This Employment Law News blog is intended for market awareness only, it is not to be used for legal advice or counsel.

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