Can an Employer Legally Verify Salary History?

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When you’re interviewing for a new job, you may have some concerns about the information your potential new employer can get in their due diligence. That employer will almost certainly seek to gain significant information from your former workplace, but what can they legally get? It may be in your best interests to not have them get some information, including your last salary. This is true for obvious reasons. If your new employer knows what you made at your last job, then they may seek to pay you less money for your work. As with any negotiation, if they know what they are competing against, they can come in lower and still get you to join up. So what can they find about your salary?

Some employers require pay stubs to prove past pay
It is legal for employers to require you to provide pay stubs from your past employer in order to take a job. If you don’t like this requirement, then you are free to not take the job. Many employers will use this method not only to verify your salary, but also to confirm that you actually worked where you said you worked. They should let you know about this requirement up front so that you can be prepared for it.

Getting consent to ask questions
Many employers will try to get your consent to ask your past employers about your salary history. They may ask you to sign a form that provides your past employers with a release to make this happen. You have the right to decline to do this under the law. In fact, the company is not allowed legally to discriminate against you because you refuse to sign this release form.

While the law technically protects you in this instance, you should also be aware of the practical consequences of this refusal. Many employers will believe that you have something to hide or that you have lied to them if you refuse to sign a release. While they technically cannot refuse to hire you because you do not give this release, many employers will ask for the release before they get deep into the hiring process. This means that they can effectively make up a reason for denying your employment if you refuse to sign the form. You may find that employers get creative in not hiring you if you refuse to play by their rules. This is not fair, but it is a part of the process.

Prohibition against getting salary history information
If you have not signed a release or provided the company with a pay stub, then your would-be employer cannot legally verify your salary history. Of course, the legal duty to hold your information confidential would fall on your past employer. There is nothing that stops your future employer from asking. It is the job of your old boss to live up to their legal duty to not disclose your salary history if you are trying to keep this from your would-be employer.