On March 14, 2024, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) vetoed identical bills passed by the Virginia legislature barring employers from asking about a job applicant’s salary history and requiring pay information to be included in job listings.

Senate Bill 370 and House Bill 990, introduced by Senator Jennifer Boysko (D) and Delegate Michelle Maldonado (D), respectively, add a new “salary history ban” statute to the Chapter of the Virginia Code that provides protections for employees. The legislation passed along party lines, with support from Democratic majorities in both the House and the Senate.

The proposed legislation prohibits prospective employers from (i) asking job applicants for their wage or salary history; (ii) relying on that history in determining the applicant’s starting wage or salary; (iii) considering wage or salary history when making a hiring determination; and (iv) refusing to interview, hire, employ, promote, or otherwise retaliate against an applicant for not providing wage or salary history. It also requires prospective employers to disclose the wage, salary, or wage or salary range for public and internal job postings. The legislation also creates a cause of action for aggrieved applicants and employees and provides for statutory damages between $1,000 and $10,000 or actual damages, whichever is greater, reasonable attorney’s fees and costs, and other appropriate relief.

In a formal explanation of his veto, Governor Youngkin acknowledged the importance of addressing wage disparities, but said that the legislation “represents government overreach, offering incomplete information during the hiring process, disregarding business needs, and potentially exposing small businesses to lawsuits.” He described the legislation as a “one-size-fits-all approach” that disregards the diverse nature of Virginia businesses and that its “potential adverse effects on small businesses, prospective employees, and the economy are too high.”

An increasing number of states have adopted “salary history ban” statutes or other similar policies. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), several states, including California, Colorado, Illinois, New York, and Washington, mandate the inclusion of salary ranges in job postings. Connecticut, Maryland, Nevada, and Rhode Island require employers to disclose salary ranges by default or upon request during the interview process, though not in job postings. Some states, including Alabama, Delaware, Hawaii, and Minnesota, ban employers from asking applicants for their salary history.

The Virginia General Assembly will reconvene on April 17, 2024, to consider the Governor’s proposed recommendations to and vetoes of bills. A 2/3 vote of each body is required to override a Governor’s veto. While Democrats hold majorities in both chambers, neither majority is large enough to overcome a veto without bipartisan support.

If you have questions about this update, need assistance with complying, or have other employment law inquiries, please contact Betty S. W. Graumlich (bgraumlich@reedsmith.com), Noah Oberlander (noberlander@reedsmith.com), or the Reed Smith lawyer with whom you normally work.