Columbus, Ohio Ordinance Prohibits Employers from Inquiries into an Applicant’s Salary HistoryClient Alert
Effective March 1, 2024, Columbus employers are prohibited from inquiring into an applicant’s salary history. Specifically, the ordinance provides that it is an unlawful discriminatory practice to:
- Inquire about the salary history of an applicant for employment;
- Screen job applicants based on their current or prior wages, benefits, other compensation, or salary histories (including requiring that an applicant's history satisfy minimum or maximum criteria);
- Rely solely on the salary history of an applicant in deciding whether to offer employment to an applicant, or in determining the salary, benefits, or other compensation; and
- Refuse to hire or otherwise disfavor, injure, or retaliate against an applicant for not disclosing salary history.
Additionally, employers may not communicate with an applicant's current or prior employers to obtain an applicant’s salary history. Moreover, employers may not search publicly available records for the purpose of obtaining an applicant’s salary history. However, these prohibitions do not bar employers from discussing an applicant’s expectations regarding salary, benefits, and other compensation.
As defined by the ordinance, an “applicant” is any person applying for employment (whether interviewed or not) to be performed within the City of Columbus and whose application (in whole or in part) will be solicited, received, processed, or considered in the city of Columbus. An “employer” is defined as employing 15 or more persons within Columbus. Job placement and referral agencies are deemed employers when they operate on behalf of an “employer” as defined by the ordinance.
In response to an employer’s violation of the ordinance, an applicant may file a complaint with the Community Relations Commission. Depending on the number of violations, employers could face up to $5,000 in civil fines.
As provided within its text, the ordinance’s purpose is to eliminate hiring practices that “perpetuate issues of systemic discrimination related to the wage gap and wealth gap for women, especially women of color.”
In preparing for March 1, Columbus employers should assess and modify their current hiring practices to comply with the ordinance once it is in effect.