Legal or Not: “What is your Current Compensation?”

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Answering the Question: What is your Current Compensation?

During an interview, the question of “what is your current compensation?” invariably arises during the course of any job interview. It is an uncomfortable question to say the least. In most states it is a legal question to ask, but in an increasing number of locales including the State of California and New York City it is no longer legal to ask this question. So beware: the laws are changing. We will keep you up to date on this important legislation as it moves through other state legislatures.

The following is “Information Guidance Only” as we are not attorneys and do not give out legal advice.

As an example of what is to follow is guidance regarding the upcoming salary history* inquiry ban which will become effective in New York City on October 31, 2017. The purpose is to ensure all individuals who will participate in the interview process are aware of these restrictions, including but not limited to the aforementioned agency, hiring managers, other employees who might interview the candidates and HR.

*Salary History is defined as current or prior wage, benefits or other compensation.

Permissible Inquiries


  1. What are your expectations with respect to about your current or prior compensation?
  2. What do you expect to be compensated in connection with this role here at our organization?
  3. What salary do you expect in this role?
  4. What type and/or amount of incentive compensation do you expect to earn in this role?

Other Permissible Areas

  1. Do you have unvested deferred compensation or equity (including any bonus guarantee) that you would be forfeiting by resigning from your current position?
  2. If so, how much?
  3. How is that deferred compensation or equity structured (if applicable)?
  4. When does the deferred compensation or equity vest?
  5. Please provide evidence of the grant/conditions of forfeiture.
  6. Please tell me about your productivity (revenue, sales, or other production reports) in your current position.
  7. Were your sales goals measured on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis?
  8. What was your [monthly/quarterly/yearly] sales goal at your previous job?
  9. Have you been promoted by your current employer? From what position to what?
  10. What are your job responsibilities?
  11. Do you have managerial responsibilities in your role?

Impermissible Inquiries

  1. What is your current salary?
  2. How much did you earn when you were employed by [former employer]?
  3. What is your current total compensation? (and same question about former employers)
  4. Can you provide a copy of your W-2/1099 from last year (or previous years)?
  5. What type of bonuses have you received from your employer? (and same question about former employers)
  6. What benefits do you currently receive from your employer? (and same question about former employers)

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