Quick Hits

  • Effective March 1, 2024, employers in Columbus, Ohio, will be prohibited from inquiring about job applicants’ wage and salary histories during the hiring process.
  • The ordinance applies to employers with fifteen or more employees in Columbus.
  • Employers found to be in violation of the ordinance may be subject to civil penalties ranging from $1,000 to $5,000, depending on the number of previous violations.

Ordinance 0709-2023 aims to promote pay equity by prohibiting employers from inquiring about job applicants’ wage, benefits, and other compensation history during the hiring process—a prohibition otherwise known as a “salary history ban.” The ordinance also prohibits employers from searching publicly available records to obtain job applicants’ salary history, screening job applicants based on their current or prior wages/salaries, relying on the salary history of job applicants in determining whether to hire them, and/or retaliating against job applicants for not disclosing their salary histories.

Ohio’s capital city joins at least nine other cities and municipalities, including New York City and Philadelphia, and fifteen states that prohibit employers from inquiring about job candidates’ salary histories.

Am I a covered employer?

The ordinance covers the government of the City of Columbus and all other employers that employ fifteen or more persons within Columbus, including any job placement or referral agency that is acting on behalf of a covered employer.

Other than the City of Columbus, the ordinance does not apply to any unit of local, state, or federal government.

Who are the covered applicants?

The ordinance covers any person who is applying for employment in Columbus, regardless of whether the employer interviews the applicant, and regardless of whether he or she is applying for a full-time, part-time, temporary, or seasonal position.

Is any consideration of salary history allowed?

Employers are still permitted to discuss job applicants’ salary expectations, as well as any monetary incentives or gains that applicants would forfeit by resigning their current employment.

The ordinance does not apply to internal transfers or promotions, or to applicants rehired by the same employer within three years of their separation.

Employers will not be penalized if job applicants voluntarily disclose their own salary history unprompted, or if such salary history appears on a legal background check, as long as employers do not use that information to make decisions with regard to compensation or whether to make a job offer.

Are there consequences for violations?

Applicants alleging a violation of the ordinance can file a complaint with the Columbus Community Relations Commission within six months of the alleged violation.

The Community Relations Commission will investigate the complaint and attempt to resolve it by informal methods. If the investigation concludes there is a reasonable basis to believe that an employer violated the ordinance and informal methods of resolution fail, the commission may initiate an administrative hearing process against the employer.

Upon an administrative finding of a violation, the commission may impose civil penalties against an employer ranging from $1,000 to $5,000, depending on the number of previous violations by the employer.

Key Takeaways

Columbus employers may want to ensure that their managers, human resources employees, and outside recruiting agencies are aware of the ordinance’s prohibitions and receive training on what information they can discuss with applicants and/or consider when making hiring and compensation decisions.

Ogletree Deakins’ Columbus office will continue to monitor developments and will provide additional updates on the Ohio and Pay Equity blogs as additional information becomes available.

Further information is available on the Ogletree Deakins Client Portal in the updated law summary for Salary History Bans in Ohio. For more information on the Client Portal or a Client Portal subscription, please reach out to clientportal@ogletree.com.

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Recent high-profile lawsuits and increased activity from state legislatures have thrust pay equity issues to the forefront for today’s employers. As the momentum of legislation, regulation, and corporate initiatives focused on identifying and correcting pay disparities continues to grow, our attorneys are ready to assist with the full spectrum of pay equity-related issues.

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