COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Columbus businesses will no longer be able to ask job applicants about how much they made in their current or prior roles starting in 2024 under an ordinance unanimously cleared by Columbus City Council on Monday. 

Introduced by Councilmember Lourdes Barroso de Padilla, the legislation mandates city businesses ax questions about salary history from their hiring practices. An earlier version of the ordinance included a second common inquiry — barring questions about credit score and history — but that portion had been cut from what Council voted through Monday.

“Based on conversations with the business community, we deemed it necessary to dig further into this practice and have more intentional conversations about how and when we use the potential employee’s credit history,” Barroso de Padilla told Council. 

More than 80% of social workers are women, Danielle Smith testified in front of Council. Smith is the executive director of the Ohio National Association of Social Workers. In a field largely dominated by women, Smith said she’s seen workers locked into lower-than-average pay rates after disclosing what they made previously. 

“Being underpaid once should not be a sentence for being underpaid for the rest of your life,” Smith said. 

But Council President Shannon Hardin told Council that although much of the conversation around the legislation had been centered on marginalized communities, he believes it will be felt outside of those communities, too.

“It increases everyone’s salary, and it’s good for all workers in our community,” Hardin said.

Barroso de Padilla said in an earlier interview she sees eliminating salary history from hiring practices as just one push at achieving pay equity in the central Ohio workforce. She introduced it with Women’s History Month and Equal Pay Day, which is Tuesday, in mind.

Including those inquiries in any portion of a hiring process can further differences in pay that already exist, Barroso de Padilla said. 

As someone who hires job applicants — both in her role on the council and at a nonprofit — Barroso de Padilla goes into conversations knowing the salary range of the role she is hiring for. Oftentimes, candidates also come to the table with a number in mind, she said. She sees this legislation as a crack at “a true negotiation between two people.”

“Instead of me taking information that I know about you, when you might not even know the range of salary for the particular job that I’m hiring for,” she said. 

As a Latina woman and a mother, the proposal is personal in other ways. “When we think about our people and how they prosper, at some point we have to say that we believe in women, at some point we have to say that we are invested in their prosperity,” Barroso de Padilla said.

At a February public hearing on the proposal, about half a dozen people — mostly women — testified on behalf of the legislation. 

“This is not just about paying people more money. It is about ensuring fair and equitable pay for work. It should no longer be accepted to demand Ritz Carlton work for Ritz Cracker wages,” said Lachandra Baker, the founder and lead consultant at a diversity, equity, and inclusion firm LBB Edutainment.

Cincinnati and Toledo enacted similar ordinances in 2020, as have states and cities across the country. Outside of Ohio, some locales have also required workplaces to publish salary ranges for roles — something that Smith asked Council to consider in the future. 

The legislation won’t take effect for one full calendar year, with an effective date of March 1, 2024. Businesses with 15 or fewer workers will not be required to abide by it. The Community Relations Commission, which handles discrimination complaints generally, will field complaints.