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Ryan Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC
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Ryan Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC
1201 Third Avenue, Suite 3400
Seattle, WA 98101-3034

News & Articles

Update to Equal Pay Law - Salary History Ban and Mandatory Disclosure of Salary Ranges

Published on July 26, 2019

On July 28, 2019, House Bill 1696 will add two new components to the Washington Equal Pay and Opportunities Act (EPOA): (1) a ban on inquiries into wage and salary history and (2) required pay range disclosure. Employers should act now to ensure compliance.

What is the salary history ban?

The first part of the bill bars employers from seeking wage or salary information from a job applicant or their current or former employers. Additionally, employers are barred from requiring an employee’s previous wage or salary to meet certain criteria.

There are two exceptions to this prohibition. First, an employer can confirm an applicant’s wage or salary information if he or she has “voluntarily disclosed” it to the employer. Second, an employer may confirm an applicant’s wage or salary history if the employer has already “negotiated and made an offer of employment with compensation” to the employee.

When must you disclose wage or salary information?

The second component of the bill requires employers with fifteen or more employees to disclose the “minimum wage or salary” to new applicants that have been offered a position upon request. Similarly, if an employee has been offered an internal transfer or promotion, an employer must provide the “wage scale or salary range” for the new position upon request, or if no wage scale or salary range exists, the “minimum wage or salary expectation” set by the employer prior to posting the position. The bill does not define or explain the differences between the various terms used to describe the pay information an employer must provide.

To summarize, you must disclose if:

  1. You have fifteen or more employees;
  2. You make an offer to a new applicant or you offer to transfer or promote a current employee; and
  3. The employee requests the information.

You do not have to disclose if one of the following is true:

  1. You have less than fifteen employees.
  2. The employee does not request the wage or salary information.
  3. You do not make an offer to a new applicant or offer a promotion or transfer to a current employee.

What are the penalties? 

Violation of the bill may result in private lawsuits by the employee and/or enforcement by the Washington Department of Labor & Industries.

How can you comply with this bill?

To comply with the new provisions of the EPOA, employers should remove all requests for wage or salary history from job applications and train hiring managers not to ask job candidates about their pay at previous jobs.

Employers should also revise any existing wage scales or salary ranges to ensure they are accurate, and timely and appropriately respond to requests for pay information that fall within the law’s scope.

If you have questions or are facing an enforcement action or lawsuit, please feel free to contact any member of the Employment Rights, Benefits & Labor Group at Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC.

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