City of Columbus, Ohio Passes Ordinance Banning Salary History Inquiries

Starting March 1, 2024, employers operating in Columbus will be prohibited from asking job applicants about compensation history.

Columbus' new ordinance is applicable to all employers located within the City of Columbus that employ at least 15 individuals within the city. Job placement and referral/employment agencies operating on behalf of an organization are also classified as "employers" per the terms of the ordinance.

The ordinance defines an applicant as any person applying for employment within the geographic boundaries of the City of Columbus and whose application "in whole or in part, will be solicited, received, processed, or considered in the City of Columbus."

Columbus' new ordinance bans an employer from:

  • Asking about an applicant's salary history, including past and current wages, benefits and/or other compensation;
  • Screening applicants based on their salary history;
  • Relying solely on the applicant's salary history in making an employment decision and/or in determining compensation (wages, benefits, etc.); and
  • Refusing to hire or otherwise disfavoring an applicant for non-disclosure.

It is important to note that compensation expectations may still be discussed with an applicant. Unlike other cities in Ohio with similar ordinances (Toledo and Cincinnati), employers operating in Columbus will not be required to share the position's pay scale with the applicants after a conditional employment offer is made.

The ordinance does not apply to:

  • Actions taken by an employer under any federal, state or local law specifically authorizing reliance on salary history in establishing compensation;
  • Internal transfers or promotions with a current employer;
  • Voluntary compensation history disclosure by the applicant;
  • Efforts by the employer to confirm the disclosure of non-salary-related information or conducting a background check; however, if such action results in the disclosure of salary history, it may not be the sole factor in determining any aspect of compensation during the hiring process and/or contract negotiations;
  • Re-hires that occur within three years of the applicant's most recent date of termination by the employer, assuming the employer has prior knowledge of past compensation details;
  • Collective bargaining positions for which compensation is determined by established procedures; and
  • Federal, state and local government employers, other than the City of Columbus.

The ordinance states that applicants are afforded the right to file administrative complaints with the Columbus Community Relations Commission. Civil penalties of up to $5,000 may be imposed dependent on the number of ordinance violations.

Employers with operations and employees in Columbus are encouraged to review internal hiring and interviewing policies and identify changes that need to be enacted prior to the March 1, 2024 effective date.

Posted: May 2, 2023

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