Washington lawmakers passed a bill earlier this year with similar provisions for state employers as those faced in California
Washington Policy Center
SB 1162, among many things, requires employers who have 15 or more employees to post salary ranges on job advertisements or be subject to some hefty fines from the California Civil Rights Department (CRD). The fines can be as high as $10,000 per violation for an employer that fails to add salary ranges to job advertisements.
However, SB 1162 is vague in its application and definitions of the definition of employers and employees. This could have a chilling effect on all employers that don’t have a physical presence in California, being subject to the California law because they have employees physically based in California. Additionally, the law is not clear if job applicants from California have the same potential claims against Washington employers, advertising jobs in Washington, that they apply for.
Similar to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which can apply to out of state companies, SB 1162 could be similarly applied. A resident from California could file a claim against an out of state employer for not including a salary range on a job advertised on one of the popular national job sites.
If an applicant is successful applying for a Washington based job, while living in California that did not have salary ranges on the job advertisement, there is potential for a lawsuit after the fact. SB 1162 allows a lawsuit to be filed up to a year after the original job posting.
An employer is considered covered by SB 1162 if they have an employee (even working remotely) in California.
For opportunistic litigators, this opens the door to frivolous lawsuits against out of state employers who fail to post salary ranges on job advertisements. Another unanswered question is whether an employer can explicitly exclude California job applicants to avoid the potential litigation risk. That is an issue that likely will be decided by the courts.
SB 1162 is poorly written legislation and could have potential legal ramifications for Washington employers, costing jobs and increasing costs for products and services.
Mark Harmsworth is the director of the Small Business Center at the Washington Policy Center.
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