Mar 13, 2023 - Business

Columbus weighs proposal to ban employers asking about pay history

Data: Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals

Columbus employers may soon be prohibited from asking job applicants about their pay history.

Why it matters: Advocates for the change say outlawing this question is one remedy for suppressed wages and pay discrimination, issues disproportionately affecting women and people of color.

Driving the news: The proposed legislation is under consideration by City Council members tonight. It's spearheaded by Council member Lourdes Barroso de Padilla, who said her interest stems from personal experience in the workplace.

What she's saying: "Being both a woman and being a Latina, the pay gap and the equity gap has definitely been something that has affected my career throughout the entirety of my career," she said at a recent public hearing discussing pay equity solutions.

The big picture: Substantial progress in narrowing the gender pay gap has stalled over the past two decades, Axios' Ivana Saric writes.

  • U.S. women earned on average roughly 82% as much as men in 2022, per Pew Research Center analysis.
  • That's up slightly from 80% in 2002, though the gap remains even wider for Black and Hispanic women.

Details: Under the proposed ordinance, employers would still be allowed to ask a job applicant's compensation expectations.

  • But employers wouldn't be able to ask about specific salary history, nor inquire with that person's prior workplace to learn that information.
  • Repeated violators could face civil fines.

Yes, but: A main exception involves any job applicant looking to be transferred or promoted within their current workplace.

  • Salary history questions would be permissible in those instances.

Zoom out: Numerous other states and cities have enacted their own pay history bans, including both Toledo and Cincinnati in 2020.

Looking ahead: Columbus ordinances normally take effect 30 days after passage but, if approved, this one wouldn't be effective until March 1, 2024, to give employers time to adjust their HR practices.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Columbus.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Columbus stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Columbus.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more