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By Tom Malone
Washington State Law HB 1696 passed in 2019 addresses the gap in wages and advancement opportunities among workers in Washington State, especially women. This law updates the Washington State equal pay act (not modified since 1943) to address income disparities, employer discrimination, retaliation practices, and it reflects the equal status of all workers in Washington State. The law provides as follows:
An employer may not:
- Seek the wage or salary history of an applicant for employment from the applicant or a current or former employer; or
- Require that an applicant’s prior wage or salary history meet certain criteria.
An employer may confirm an applicant’s wage or salary history:
- If the applicant has voluntarily disclosed the applicant’s wage or salary history; or
- After the employer has negotiated and made an offer of employment with compensation to the applicant.
In addition, a section in the law (applying only to employers with fifteen or more employees), requires that upon request of an applicant, after an employer has offered the applicant a position, the employer must provide the minimum wage or salary for the position;
and upon request of an employee offered an internal transfer to a new position or promotion, the employer must provide the wage scale or salary range for the employee’s new position. If no wage scale or salary range exists, the employer must provide the minimum wage or salary expectation set by the employer prior to posting the position.
Violations of this law may subject the employer to civil penalties and payment of wages and interest as provided in RCW 49.58.060.