Significant Changes to Salary Information Exchange Under Washington Law


On July 28, 2019, changes to Washington’s Equal Pay and Opportunities Act took effect, largely prohibiting employers from requesting wage or salary history from job applicants or the applicant’s previous employer. The Equal Pay and Opportunities Act also provides that employers may not prohibit employees from disclosing or discussing their wages and—in some circumstances—the wages of other employees. Washington is the third west coast state to pass this type of legislation, joining both Oregon and California. These legal changes are intended to help ensure equal pay for equal work.

What This Means for Employers:

  • Employers cannot seek wage or salary history of an applicant. An employer may confirm an applicant's salary after the employer negotiates and makes an offer of employment, including pay, to the applicant. Applicants can voluntarily disclose their wage or salary history to prospective employers.

  • Employers cannot require that an applicant's prior wage or salary history meet certain criteria.

  • Employers with 15 or more employees must provide an applicant who is offered a position with the minimum wage or salary of the position they are applying for, if requested.

  • Employers with 15 or more employees must provide an employee who is offered an internal transfer or promotion with the wage scale or salary range of their new position if requested. If a wage scale or salary range does not exist, the employer must provide the minimum wage or salary expectation set by the employer prior to posting the position, making a position transfer, or making the promotion.

Immediate Actions Employers Should Take:

  • Review job applications and other hiring documentation and remove any requests for or references to job applicants' salary history.

  • Be prepared to provide specific information about the minimum wages or salaries, wage scales or salary ranges to applicants and employees upon request

To learn more about this change or how to prepare, contact an attorney at JDSA Law.