In 2017, understanding that pay disparities were exacerbated as employees moved further into their careers, Jerry Brown signed A.B. 168 into law. Central to the bills’ purpose was reducing the gender pay gap which adds to “lifelong financial effects including contributing to women’s poverty.” The bill, later codified as California Labor Code Section 432.3, provided several protections as individuals attempted to negotiate their salary.
First and foremost, employers are prevented from relying on “salary history” as “a factor in determining whether to offer employment to an applicant or what salary to offer an applicant.” This is particularly important for employees who have a history of being underpaid, and have been unable to obtain appropriate salary increases at new employment due to their employer’s reliance on prior salary history.
Second, employers are prevented from seeking out salary history information about applicants for employment.
And third, an employer must provide the pay scale—meaning the salary or hourly wage range—for a position to an applicant who makes a “reasonable request.” An applicant makes a reasonable request when they have made the request after “complet[ing] an initial interview with the employer.” Cal. Labor code §432.3(c). Importantly, this helps applicants avoid underestimating or undervaluing their skills when negotiating a potential salary.
While there are some limited exceptions to the law, it provides necessary protections that will help close the gender pay gap in the future.