Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Philadelphia Poised to Ban Employers from Asking Hires About Salary History (wsj.com)
238 points by prostoalex on Jan 21, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 236 comments



An important detail: Comcast, backed by the local Chamber of Commerce, has threatened to sue the city over this law. On what basis? The corporation's Constitutional First Amendment free speech right to ask the question:

http://www.investopedia.com/news/comcast-threatens-sue-city-...

Are these the same free speech rights the Supreme Court recently bestowed on the corporations? I remember that at the time legal analysts said it would make it hard to regulate corporations. How can you regulate, for example, what goes in a prospectus issued to shareholders if the corporate has free speech rights?


That's a red herring. You can hold individuals responsible for misleading statements in financial disclosures notwithstanding the fact that individuals indisputably have free speech rights. At the same time, if you can ban a corporation from asking the question about salary history, you should be able to ban a sole proprietorship or partnership from asking the question too.


> You can hold individuals responsible for misleading statements in financial disclosures notwithstanding the fact that individuals indisputably have free speech rights

I'm not sure you can be effective if you do it reactively with lawsuits; who can afford to sue a Wall Street bank? You need regulations and rules.

Also, the problem is not just misleading statements, but requiring that essential information is included, that it's expressed according to certain common standards, and that it's understandable to common people - not just to Wall Street bankers.

There's a long history of selling bad deals to widows and orphans by confusing them. Currently you can't sell certain things to non-professionals; if they have free speech, can you stop them?


The State itself can sue the banks for those misleading statements, e.g.: https://www.sec.gov/spotlight/enf-actions-fc.shtml


Yes. The point is that corporations' new 'free speech rights' may interfere with that.


The other guy already addressed this. It doesn't matter whether it's the state suing. Free speech doesn't mean you can't sue for misleading statements.


What new rights are you referring to, Citizen's United?


I think that was the case; I wasn't sure enough to name it though.


>Also, the problem is not just misleading statements, but requiring that essential information is included, that it's expressed according to certain common standards, and that it's understandable to common people - not just to Wall Street bankers.

Whether it's understandable doesn't matter, you only need to prove that they intentionally mislead you to get you to sign something detrimental to your interests.

>There's a long history of selling bad deals to widows and orphans by confusing them. Currently you can't sell certain things to non-professionals; if they have free speech, can you stop them?

I'm sure there already are laws that prevent/penalize sellers from conning people.


> Whether it's understandable doesn't matter

There is a wide chasm between provably misleading and confusion or lack of information on the readers' side. That's why those communications are regulated, afaik.

> I'm sure there already are laws that prevent/penalize sellers from conning people.

Right, laws and regulations.

1) My point above was that the legal analysts said that the new corporate free speech rights, which the Supreme Court said were Constitutional rights (if I understand correctly), might invalidate those laws.

2) If you look at the recent history of Wall Street fraud, which among other things was the cause of the 2008 Great Recession, those laws and regulations haven't been effective enough.


>1) My point above was that the legal analysts said that the new corporate free speech rights, which the Supreme Court said were Constitutional rights (if I understand correctly), might invalidate those laws.

But then why aren't individuals using this as a defense already?, they have had the free speech rights for much longer.


> why aren't individuals using this as a defense already?, they have had the free speech rights for much longer.

I don't think individuals are regulated by the SEC, for example. Usually it's corporations that are. What are you thinking of?


Basically, if a corporation can say/do things, and then claim it's just their expression and so protected under the First Amendment, shouldn't individuals be able to do the same?

In general, not necessarily in finance; but surely there are fields where certified professionals are liable when something goes wrong based on their advice or decisions (say, accounting or civil engineering).


>who can afford to sue a Wall Street bank

Probably investors or rich customers who get screwed by these statements or a band of normal folks in a class action lawsuit


Are all employers corporations? And even as such, this is just outlawing information. I do not understand how so many on the left support such a measure.

It's a question -- outlawing questions, especially between private parties in a consensual relationship (applicant and employer), is backwards. You can choose not to answer it; you can lie; you can choose not to work for employers that ask the question in the first place, especially if they coerce you into providing records. This will just undermine the efforts of companies that have differentiated themselves with noninvasive hiring practices and set them back on the same playing field as less scrupulous employers.

Why is free choice so difficult to understand?


Probably because there is a very large disparity in power and information. A few points:

1. You will always need the job more than Comcast will need you (unless you're unusually skilled, most workers aren't)

2. Comcast knows how much the pay every one of their employees, you the job seeker do not.

3. Comcast is only asking so they can figure out the lowest pay you'll accept. You have no way to figure out how high they are willing to go, so you start out at a disadvantage.

4. Limiting a company's ability to ask intrusive questions in no way impinges on individual liberty, you are not a company, and a company is not a person.

5. If you choose to not answer, they likely will not hire you, if you lie and they find out, they will likely fire you. If they lie the you about the pay range and you accept, you have no recourse but to quit if you catch them in that lie, which brings us back to point #1.


I think all your other points are good, but a response to #4. I think one issue might be that it's ambiguous to enforce. If implemented, could an employer not rephrase the question: "How much would you like to get paid?" and still get away with the same discrimination?

Is the final solution here a race to the bottom to normalize wages to prevent perceived discrimination based on non-quantifiable metrics?


"How much would you like to get paid" pretty much has to be asked and answered at some point if there is going Robb's an employment relationship. "How much did you make previously" does not.


>If implemented, could an employer not rephrase the question: "How much would you like to get paid?" and still get away with the same discrimination?

That's not rephrasing the question. That's a completely different question.


"As much as possible."


> You will always need the job more than Comcast will need you

Where is the evidence for this? This is by no means an obvious claim. No one in the world needs "the job," even though most people need "a job." Do companies exist that are more moral/popular/friendly than others? Of course. And some of them are successful in part because people want them to succeed due to their aforementioned characteristics. That is freedom. There is a market for moral hiring practices, just like every other kind of morality.

> Comcast knows how much the pay every one of their employees, you the job seeker do not.

Actually, this is completely false. You have a pretty good understanding of what they pay employees in similar positions (if you've ever heard of Glassdoor), whereas they have very little understanding what you were making in a past life, especially if you worked at lesser known companies.

> Comcast is only asking so they can figure out the lowest pay you'll accept. You have no way to figure out how high they are willing to go, so you start out at a disadvantage.

Of course, their goal is to get a deal, just like your goal is to get a big sale. Sounds like a free market at work. What's the problem?

> Limiting a company's ability to ask intrusive questions in no way impinges on individual liberty, you are not a company, and a company is not a person.

What if I am a consultant, sole proprietor, prime contractor, etc.? As I already mentioned, not all employers are corporations. It DOES infringe on freedom. And it's not like there is this nebulous, evil entity named Comcast that wants to ask the question -- it's the people in the business making business decisions, who decide to ask the question to better inform their offers (whether this is a poor decision is subjective, both morally and otherwise).

> If you choose to not answer, they likely will not hire you

Sounds speculative -- I need data for such a broad generalization.

> if you lie and they find out, they will likely fire you.

Sounds really speculative -- would you think it's common to go back in time and try to find old salaries? I appreciate that you're putting "likely," but I would like to see some evidence that it is indeed likely (defined as more than 50%).

> If they lie the you about the pay range and you accept, you have no recourse but to quit if you catch them in that lie, which brings us back to point #1.

I think it's pretty universal that you know your compensation in the contract before you accept the job -- it's just as much your fault if you take a job for the salary that they say you might see in a future promotion.

As you can see, I'm extremely unconvinced by any of your arguments here. I'm open to seeing another side of this if you have more compelling arguments, but I hope you can see that the world has not fallen apart thus far without this regulation in place, and I don't think there is any benefit to outweigh the losses/loss of freedom. If you can somehow show that employers are infringing on peoples' freedoms by asking this question more than the freedoms of the employers would be impacted by not being allowed to ask certain questions, then that would be compelling. But I don't see it.


>> > You will always need the job more than Comcast will need you > Where is the evidence for this?

It does not require a great deal of imagination to understand that a large corporation and single prospective employee are not equal parties. If you fail to get a job, you will starve. If Comcast fails to hire you, they most clearly will not face an existential crisis.

This is most certainly not a free market at work. Comcast wants this power because it will give them a significant negotiating advantage and result in lower wages. Eliminating this advantage is one small step in leveling the playing field between the two unequal parties.


>It does not require a great deal of imagination to understand that a large corporation and single prospective employee are not equal parties. If you fail to get a job, you will starve. If Comcast fails to hire you, they most clearly will not face an existential crisis.

Is Comcast the only company hiring people? If you don't get a job with Comcast you get a job with a different company. That is a market, many sellers of labor, many buyers of labor. The buyers look for the best labor and the sellers look for the best price.


Comcast is simply the example here. Yes you can look for another employer, but if they are doing the same thing -- requiring disclosure of salary history -- then in aggregate this will put more negotiating power in the hands of employers and thus reduce workers' incomes.


Do you think market will forget this ? Govts seem to forget that despite being big, they are market actors themselves. And it wont be the Comcasts but many SMBs.

In todays volatile world, noones existence is certain. And govts need to realize this soon before they spend all of their capitals like this.


I'm not sure I understand what side of things you're coming down on, but personally I'm in favor of tilting things somewhat more in favor of labor than they are now.

Partly this is because I don't think a market can function justly on a principle of enforced asymmetry and imbalance. As I see it, if we allow people to pool capital together to gain greater collective leverage than any of them would have individually, and reap greater returns as a result (also known as a corporation), we must also allow people to pool their labor together to gain collective leverage and reap greater returns (also known as labor unions, worker protections, etc.). Having one without the other does not appear ethically justifiable to me, and rigging laws to strengthen one significantly at the expense of the other is similarly unjustifiable.

Partly this is because of the relevant history. Much of what people have convinced themselves constitutes a "free market" was in fact deliberately rigged to artificially preserve and benefit one side (capital) at the expense of the other (labor). Look into employment law from the 1800s, for example, and it's very clearly designed to prevent competition between companies in the market and ensure they each can comfortably remain immune to several important market forces. But somehow we've idealized that period as one of "laissez-faire" and "free markets" despite it being nothing of the sort, and then whenever an attempt is made to un-rig the system we hear that it's bad for business, will kill business, will hurt business, is anti-business, etc. -- being in business for business' sake is not an end worth pursuing in itself, and if a business can't survive without the market rigged in its favor, well, the true free-market position is that that business shouldn't survive.


> we must also allow people to pool their labor together to gain collective leverage and reap greater returns (also known as labor unions, worker protections, etc.). Having one without the other does not appear ethically justifiable to me, and rigging laws to strengthen one significantly at the expense of the other is similarly unjustifiable.

And free-market does not stop them in any way. In fact FM give them most freedom. So FM favours/disfavours none.


On the other hand, if your salary history shows you were paid well, the company will realize you are likely more competent than your job history otherwise suggests, and that they should offer you more.


And this law does nothing to prevent interviewees voluntarily disclosing their previous salary.


That's right. And the employer will likely infer that the salary is low if it is not disclosed.


Why? It's not normal practice for interviewees to volunteer their previous salaries.


> Is Comcast the only company hiring people? If you don't get a job with Comcast you get a job with a different company

The reality is, the job market is not that liquid. That's why people are terrified of losing their job.


True, but shouldn't we be working on a more general solution to that problem rather than playing whack-a-mole with every possible way employers can abuse the power that comes from that illiquidity?


I agree that would be better, but I'm eager to hear the politically feasible, general solution that will help these people.

Unions and collective bargaining are one general solution, but those are under great threat now.

IME, Congress seems to play whack-a-mole with most issues; I've often wondered what about Congress causes that outcome.


You are missing the point. Companies are offering jobs and thus in a position of power.


I've been on both sides - employer and employee. As an employer, the notion I had all this power over people is pretty eyebrow raising. If an employee didn't like something, he was out the door and there was nothing I could do about it. As an employee, if I didn't like something, I was out the door and there was nothing the employer could do about it.


Given you are posting on hacker news there is a high chance you are in the tech industry. What you are describing is far easier for tech employees than it is for employees in most other fields.

I am in the tech industry but have several friends in various non-tech fields and sometimes the stuff they put up with at their jobs amazes me. But when I ask why they don't just leave the answer is that they don't want to start a potentially lengthy job search right then or that they aren't sure they can find a significantly better one.


I've hired non-tech people, and have been a non-tech employee, too. Same story.


If I had to guess, the discrepancy in your and afastow's experiences is largely dependent on the relevant field and the market for jobs

An individual's tolerance to go into the job search experience is also a factor, likely dependent on their financial situation


I'm not free market shlop, but do note in extremely idealized conditions buyer and seller is symmetric, and that includes the job market. Though with the realities of what a job is, yes that's mostly true.


> If you fail to get a job, you will starve.

That sort of implies that you were born to have that job, and Comcast was formed to provide you with that job.

Furthermore, any job that pays more than minimum wage implies there was negotiating going on and either party was willing to walk away.


I think there can be a bit of a disconnect between tech and the "real world" on this point.

We're lucky that at the moment it's easy to get interviews for programming jobs. If you can program, you can eventually get a job somewhere that will pay a wage you can live on.

Most people's experience of looking for jobs is putting in hundreds of applications and maybe getting one or two interviews. So by the time you are at the interview stage, you really can't be too casual about throwing the opportunity away.


Nothing about a free market requires all power dynamics to be equal among all participants - that would be impossible without regulation, and a free market must by definition be free of any regulatory influence.


No, a free market is not defined by absence of regulation!

Even fervent laissez-faire economists admit the necessity of appropriate regulations: contract enforcement rules, avoidance of monopolies, a system of law and order for handling disputes, etc.

A free market is defined as an exchange where both sides have access to the same information.


> A free market is defined as an exchange where both sides have access to the same information.

That is completely false. Asymmetric information and imperfect information are expected with free markets.

The price of gathering information is very well studied.


> A free market is defined as an exchange where both sides have access to the same information.

I disagree - it's where neither party is using force or fraud.


> A free market is defined as an exchange where both sides have access to the same information.

Its free as in freedom; to do anything. You are free to ask anyone about anything anytime.

You can do anything except be physical aggresive (like states).

> Even fervent laissez-faire economists admit the necessity of appropriate regulations: contract enforcement rules, avoidance of monopolies, a system of law and order for handling disputes, etc.

All of these has free market solutions.

All of these peope you speak of are not free market supporters. They are statists.


That's the logical extreme, but that is not what free market economists actually say. The GP is accurate.

The free market is a great tool, but no tool is universal.

Why are we more concerned that we stick to an ideology - it's treated as a fundamentalist religion, treated as the solution to every problem and something with which any disagreement or deviation must be shot down - and not the people who are rich or poor, safe or suffering, educated or not, healthy or not, etc.


There is no such thing as "free market economists". That was halfly my point. They are statists in disguise.

> Why are we more concerned that we stick to an ideology - it's treated as a fundamentalist religion, treated as the solution to every problem and something with which any disagreement or deviation must be shot down - and not the people who are rich or poor, safe or suffering, educated or not, healthy or not, etc.

You are imagining. I am claiming no such things.


I feel as though the side with the upper hand in hiring negotiations goes with the tide of the economy/labor market. In my opinion corporations have the advantage in today's market (as indicated by stagnant wages, although this metric may be at a turning point) and it may be suitable to provide protections for job seekers. One could also argue that the opportunity cost of job hunting for an individual is greater than that of a corporation. However, perhaps it is better to ban employers from demanding proof of past salary as opposed to banning employers from asking salary.


You have a very naive, non-nuanced, and absolutist view of the world.

> Actually, this is completely false. You have a pretty good understanding of what they pay employees in similar positions (if you've ever heard of Glassdoor),

Are you serious? Do you really think Glassdoor is a legitimate authority for salary at companies? They do zero verification and are mostly dependent on people's honesty. Personally, I've signed up for no less than 10 Glassdoor accounts with companies I've never worked for with salaries way above and below my pay grade. Contrast that with Comcast, who, by law, knows exactly how much each employee makes down to the penny.

> Sounds really speculative -- you think it's common to go back in time and try to find old salaries?

No, it's not speculative. If a company finds out that you misrepresented yourself, they will in all likelihood fire you. I've seen it happen a few times, they don't just pretend like you didn't lie.

And your earlier posts left me a bit puzzled

> you can choose not to work for employers that ask the question in the first place, especially if they coerce you into providing records

This is not a meeting between just two private parties. It is the meeting of a large organization with vastly superior resources with (usually) a citizen. We, as people, are given certain rights enshrined in various legal documents. Corporations are fictitious entities created to limit risk and thus do not possess certain rights.

> Where is the evidence for this? This is by no means an obvious claim. No one in the world needs "the job," even though most people need "a job."

This is simple math. Generally, 100% of your income will come from Comcast if you work for them. Your impact on the financial fortune of a billion dollar company is negligible.

> Are all employers corporations? And even as such, this is just outlawing information. I do not understand how so many on the left support such a measure.

I don't mean to disparage you, but are you an adult? Information is the most vital and valuable resource in this, the Information Age. Visuals are information, yet I am not allowed to watch or record you having intercourse. Juries are not allowed access to media during a trial. Although I agree with their actions, Chelsea Manning and Snowden released outlawed information. In terms of hiring, there are a number of questions that are outlawed for good reason Here are a few:

How old are you?

Are you married?

Are you pregnant?

Are you a US Citizen?

Do you have any disabilities?

What religion do you practice?

What is your race?

> Why is free choice so difficult to understand?

This is why I question your age/maturity. You do not possess absolute freedom. You can't do whatever you want, you live in a society with other people and we have rules. I don't agree with it, but you are not free to make crystal methamphetamine even if it is 100% for personal use. You are not free to walk around naked. The canonical example is you are not free to yell fire in a crowded building. I just don't understand how you've lived long enough to know the english language yet don't understand that there are limits on your behavior. 3 year olds know they don't have absolute freedom.


I agree, 100%, with everything you said. Ver good response.

Except.... "You are not free to walk around naked."

Funny thing, in Oregon, nudity is considered constitutionally protected speech! You might get hauled off for walking around in the nud, but people have fought that and won in court!


> You have a very naive, non-nuanced, and absolutist view of the world.

Already excited for the personal attacks and logical fallacies which await.

> Are you serious? Do you really think Glassdoor is a legitimate authority for salary at companies? They do zero verification and are mostly dependent on people's honesty. Personally, I've signed up for no less than 10 Glassdoor accounts with companies I've never worked for with salaries way above and below my pay grade. Contrast that Comcast, who knows exactly how much each employee makes down to the penny.

Sounds like the same argument people made against Wikipedia, which I consider to be a very legitimate source of information on average. You are clearly an outlier by being dishonest.

> I've seen it happen a few times, they don't just pretend like you didn't lie.

Another anecdote.. I'm looking for evidence, if you have any. Not that they wouldn't fire you, but for how common it is that they actually search for your past salaries to verify.

> This is simple math. Generally, 100% of your income will come from Comcast if you work for them. Your impact on the financial fortune of a billion dollar company is negligible.

No, Comcast represents 1/ms % of your potential income, where m= the number of employers, and s=average salary per position. Since this thread started, I've seen people try to play the numbers multiple ways, and every time they underestimate the collective influence of the job seekers.

Going to skip through your attempts at condescension here, and get to the heart of the matter:

> You do not possess absolute freedom. You can't do whatever you want, you live in a society with other people and we have rules.

In a free society, you are free to do whatever you want so long as it does not infringe upon the rights of others. I think we are in agreement here, but you just didn't have a fundamental way of expressing it, so now you do. It's called the nonaggression principle. Of course, everything infringes on everyone's rights in some way, so my philosophy is to maximize net freedom.

Jefferson agreed with this philosophy and enshrined certain rights such as free speech, even though free speech can offend. Of course, there are exceptions for slander and harassment and the likes. However, I do not think asking a question could ever be considered an exception to that rule, including the above questions you listed. And in fact, most of those questions are required, not outlawed, for government reporting. The government is the primary questioner of that personal information, and I think they are the only ones that should NOT be allowed to ask because they are the only ones you could be FORCED to answer.

> I don't agree with it, but you are not free to make crystal methamphetamine even if it is 100% for personal use. You are not free to walk around naked. The canonical example is you are not free to yell fire in a crowded building.

So let's apply what you just learned. In the first case, I think you should be allowed to make meth and use it yourself. Unless there is a guarantee of inherently affecting others, which you might be able to make a decent case for with PCP. Yes, I understand there are rules, but that's a terrible argument because the rules are bad.

Walking around naked, not hurting anyone, you should probably be able to do it on your own property/potentially even public property. Private entities should be able to say 'no shoes, no service.'

Yelling fire in a theater is a different case, where you are clearly infringing on the rights of others and putting people in danger. So it's illegal, and it should be.


>"Sounds like the same argument people made against Wikipedia, which I consider to be a very legitimate source of information on average."

It can not be "legitimate" and "on average".


> It can not be "legitimate" and "on average".

I do believe you just made that up. Nothing is perfect, and yet there have been studies that show Wikipedia is more often factually correct than Encyclopedia Britannica, which was previously considered the gold standard. http://www.nature.com/nature/britannica/index.html

Is the New York Times legitimate on average? I would say so. Are there mistakes from time to time? Yes. They are typically corrected, as are Wikipedia's.

I don't see the point in trying to find a petty side-argument when there is no argument to be had. If that's the best you could find though, I consider my above points to be well-vetted.



No offense, but neither of your comments here contributed anything to the discussion, nor did they prove even the small, uninteresting point that you think they did.


Don't feed the troll


It would appear you were the condescending troll based on your original post, and I'm glad to have put you in your place. Being outwardly rude does not make your arguments more compelling, and it usually signifies your frustration with your own inability to express yourself. So, sorry about that, but there are more mature ways to handle your emotions. Educating yourself on the specifics would be a good first step, and not making assumptions about others that are irrelevant to the discussion would be another.


HN is toast. Its being overrun by statists/socialists.


I think one would have to be extremely far right to view the predominate view of HN as 'socialist'... But as for statist, it depends on how you define the word, but in an economic sense at least, the more I talk to libertarians, the more I associate that word with 'realist'.

There are lots of nice ideals in voluntarism and total free-market economics, but I'm less and less convinced that they could work at any significant scale in the real world...


There is a wide range of libertarian perspectives, just like you find on the left (socialist and beyond to moderate). I consider myself and my arguments on this thread to be with a moderate-leaning interpretation of the libertarian-associated non-aggression principle. I think everyone here agrees with the non-aggression principle, but Democrats don't usually recognize it or try to apply it as a logical, almost quantifiable rule (quantifiable in the sense of maximizing units of freedom) against policy positions.

HN appears to lean left of moderate liberals, though. The hive-mind can be a major turn-off at times...


"I think everyone here agrees with the non-aggression principle"

Most people won't agree on a definition of "property" or "aggression" rendering the point moot, however.


> Most people won't agree on a definition of "property" or "aggression" rendering the point moot, however.

First of all, the only relevant definition in the NAP is "aggression." Regardless, I think it's incredibly useful to have a fundamental basis that people agree on, which can be used as a pillar of debate. It's the closest you can come to a 'scientific method' in political discussion, as opposed to the Democrats'/Republicans' strategy of just picking and choosing what 'sounds fair, sounds right.'


>First of all, the only relevant definition in the NAP is "aggression."

Literally in the first paragraph:

"Aggression", for the purposes of NAP, is defined as initiating or threatening the use of any and all forcible interference with an individual or individual's property.[1]"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-aggression_principle

>Regardless, I think it's incredibly useful to have a fundamental basis that people agree on

That's hilarious. Not only is the definition of "property" completely open to interpretation, so is the word "aggression", the word "initiated" and the word "threaten".

This principle is clearly meant to be as vague as possible so people can attach their own meaning to it. It resembles religion.


> Literally in the first paragraph:

I laid out my definition in a prior comment; the most succinct version is "your only right is the right to not be aggressed against." Adding property is a nice way of delving into specifics, but it's not the most fundamental definition.

> That's hilarious.

Sounds like you have a personal bias against libertarianism. This is nothing new -- I deal with contrarians all the time, who are usually dead set on dismissing alternative views instead of building their own. Yes, nothing in the world is "pure" and "perfect," but I'm curious what criteria you use to evaluate policy, or if it's just a doozy and you agree with whatever you read in the New York Times.

Not trying to insult you, but please, for your sake and everyone else's: don't be a contrarian. This is serious life advice. Multiple companies I've worked for have had rules like "don't complain unless you provide a better solution," and they're right. You don't need to blindly pat everyone on the back, but arguing against something without proposing or referencing something better is one of my pet peeves.


If free-market cannot solve this nothing will. No actor (including Govt) has mental capicity to understand everything in this world.

Free-market solves everthing best with most stability.


That's a statement of faith though (or ideology if you prefer), not a statement of fact. And I think it's built on shaky ground (such as requiring economic systems to tend towards equilibrium, which while perhaps a useful simplifying assumption a few hundred years ago, these days it's looking more like economic systems are actually better modelled as complex dynamic systems that don't necessarily happen in equilibrium).

I think empirically history shows that lack of regulation can be as bad as too much regulation. The reality is more of a balance, and black-and-white faith in the free market solving everything looks more and more to me at least as a dangerous delusion.


> I think empirically history shows that lack of regulation can be as bad as too much regulation.

You cannot stop every bad things in the world. Otherwise you will end up creating more unstability and, as a result, worse things.

Libertarianism/Free-Market does not claim to iradicate all the bad things humans do to each other. It just that it will give you best fighting/winning chance.

> The reality is more of a balance, and black-and-white faith in the free market solving everything looks more and more to me at least as a dangerous delusion.

You got it opposite. Its the libertarians believe that world is too complex to be understood by one entity and better left to multiple entities (aka market). Libertarians wont go around claiming they understand the intention of every employers and ban them for asking certain questions.

Free-Market is smallest abstraction. Free-market can reduce to Statism if there is a demand. But Statism wont reduce to free-market.


Does the free market really solves everything best? Did it solve Pi for very large number of decimal digits? Fermat's Last Theorem? Do you consult the free market when you want to decide what to do tomorrow?

This maximalist position is crazy. Our experience shows that there are some things which are most efficiently solved by the (mostly) free market, but nobody managed to conclusively prove that the free market (and which type of free market is that anyway?) solves everything. That's the point where Libertarianism shifts from an ideology to a religion.


Similarly, be careful not to generalize this to all libertarians...

Most libertarians have varying stances that all develop from the non-aggression principle ("in a free society, you have the freedom to do whatever you want so long as it does not infringe on the rights of anybody else.") I have never heard a compelling argument against the NAP, because it can be interpreted so broadly. Even some of the pro-no-asking-questions people on this thread are using the NAP, if unwittingly, to justify their positions.


> in a free society, you have the freedom to do whatever you want so long as it does not infringe on the rights of anybody else.

Thats not NAP if rights is anything but right to be not physically assulted.

NAP is basically: do no (physical) harm.

You not only allowed to be aggressive in other ways (such as economically) but its relied upon to tackle overly powerful entities (like megacorps).


I think 'physical assault' is a very simplistic view of the NAP; and I fall on the other end of the scale where indirect damage through social/economic/environmental channels can be considered to infringe on liberty. Slander laws, noise ordinances, and non-localized environmental pollution all fall into this category and are eligible to be addressed through regulations which actually improve liberty. However, not being allowed to ask questions does not fall in this category in my opinion.


> I think 'physical assault' is a very simplistic view of the NAP

Its simple by design. Its easiest to get universel consent.

> I fall on the other end of the scale where indirect damage through social/economic/environmental channels can be considered to infringe on liberty. Slander laws, noise ordinances, and non-localized environmental pollution all fall into this category and are eligible to be addressed through regulations which actually improve liberty. However, not being allowed to ask questions does not fall in this category in my opinion.

Sure you can create such contract. But it cannot be called NAP. Otherwise it will lead to miscommunication.


>Its simple by design. Its easiest to get universel consent.

And it falls down as soon as you want to enforce any other rules, like say, property rights.

If I reach to take your property and you slap my hand away, you have broken the NAP as you define it. Or you let me take it, but then expect the police or security company to punish me, they are breaking the NAP.


> And it falls down as soon as you want to enforce any other rules, like say, property rights.

You are right. For this desirable, two universal consents are needed: 1. NAP 2. Land Registry (eg blockchain based).

I claim that there will be 99%+ consent among inhabitants of a perticular region, which is good enough.

This have to be mentioned that no society (ancapism or socialism) can function without some minimum level of cooperation from all which is safe assumption because we are after all social animals. When this characterstic is not found, people migrate as they have been doing since ages.


What is your opinion on regulations that protect certain social classes. For example, should a business be allowed to refuse a LGBT customer their services?


Sole proprietor/family business/lemonade stand: yes, refuse whoever you want, even if you blatantly say "we don't serve gays."

Corporations/LLC's: these entities have obtained special government privileges (being detached from any personal liability/ ability to seize an owner's assets), and so it seems reasonable that they can be considered to 'meet some public standards' in exchange for these privileges. Anti-discrimination falls into that category in my opinion.


The argument I've heard against the former is that everyone ends up paying taxes and otherwise indirectly contributing to your business, so it isn't right to deny them access.

At the same time, though the business owner also contributed their own taxes to the situation.

I think I agree with your distinction and stance, with the idea being that the market will correct because it's shitty business to turn away a customer over an irrelevant detail like that


Indeed. Those filthy commies will be completely unable to provide and discuss anything that "good hackers would find interesting". Only God's only people, the Objectivists, can do that.


Im perfectly ok if HN bans all political news.


Yes it is. :-(


The symmetry is naive. The only way I'd be completely confident in it is if the branching factors matched, i.e. the distribution of "number of employees per employer" mirrored the distribution of "number of employers per employee".

Absent that, you need to prove assymmetries cancel out, which has a higher burden of proof.


Most companies have multiple employees, where most employees only have one employer. You are 1/n to them and they are everything to you. The power differential is staggering particularly for a cable company.


> You are 1/n to them and they are everything to you

This is false! You are 1/n to them and they are 1/m to you. Where n=number of job seekers and m=number of employers. Both numbers are very high.

EDIT: You can have many employers over your lifetime, and you are not bound to any one during your job search. m does not equal 1.


Most of the time m is a number smaller than 10. For many small businesses n might be the same order of magnitude, but for often it is at least an order of magnitude greater. The ratios just aren't close in most cases.


No, m=1, typically, because most people only have/can have one employer.


Please stop voting this guy down. While I don't agree with all post, he at least made a well argued post that contributed to civil discourse.


You forget that if companies win we win by higher interest rates on bank accounts and higher stock prices.


Who is "we"? People who already have wealth? Sure.


No, "we" means anyone invested in those companies who make gains or who has loaned money to those companies (which could occur through your bank account).


Sure, which means people with wealth already. The more wealth the more you will benefit.

Someone with no money to invest (directly or indirectly through savings accounts) can't benefit.

So, instead of getting paid well, we should be happy with companies indirectly contributing a little to us through their succcess? Sounds like a great excuse for people in the middle to skim a cut.

Look - I'm not saying I don't see the value of business, but that doesn't mean we should just let businesses do whatever the hell they want because them doing well benefits their owners/investors (direct and indirect).


> You can choose not to answer it; you can lie; you can choose not to work for employers that ask the question in the first place, especially if they coerce you into providing records.

>> you can choose not to work for employers that ask the question in the first place

>>> you can choose not to work

And here is the disconnect. Not everyone has the ability to simply "choose not to work...". Hence, laws. Your reasoning could be applied to simply working in general. After all, one can just choose not to work until they find a job that meets all of their criteria (salary, vacation time, commute, great people, great mission, etc). Unfortunately, life doesn't work like that.


The (typically salaried) people that get to negotiate their pay that this stuff affects do have those choices.


Not that I agree with the logical leaps here, but you skipped a step:

> you can choose not to work for employers

You don't have to work for any particular employer, and you also don't have to work for any employer at all. You can consult, contract, start a company, etc. But of course this is not necessary even if you're basing your entire career around avoiding that question, because it's not like every single employer asks it.


I skipped that step because it leads to the same conclusion. Or do you think a regular person in this country is capable of consulting, contracting, starting a company, etc?


Contracting? Yes...

Starting a company? Sure. There sure are a lot of restaurants, food trucks, and dry cleaners out there. Although it's not easy with all the legal barriers to entry created by well-intentioned regulators like yourself :)

This is a tangent, but the whole nanny-state ideology advocated by many of the people arguing with me here is the reason people are so dependent on employers instead of having freedom to easily create their own enterprises.

But this is not necessary regardless, as I addressed in my previous closing statement.

Edit: curious if HN users are downvoting based on opinion versus content. Feels a bit like a hive mind whenever I post against a generally left-leaning argument.


Contracting and consulting is a legal/economic framework for shifting the risk/reward ratio from the entity purchasing services to the entity providing the services.

It does nothing to change the market of service purchasers in any way. As such, if you had problems as an employee with the pool of service purchasers, you're going to have those same problems as a vendor of services.

> Although [starting a business] is not easy with all the legal barriers to entry created by well-intentioned regulators like yourself :)

Because that's the hard part of a successful business?


The principles you raise require a relationship where parties have relatively equal power.

For example, if the CEO of a Fortune 500 company pushes a janitor for sex, you can say the janitor has the "free choice" to deny the CEO, but that's not really the case. If a high-profile coach tells one of their team members to do something inappropriate, the college kid has the 'free choice' to say no, but not really.

This rule is actually the law; the validity of contracts depends in part on the relative power of the parties who negotiated it. A bank can negotiate a contract with a naive person which sells the bank all the the person's possessions for $1, but no court will enforce it.


For myself, these sorts of libertarian arguments seem very similar to the concepts presented in Econ 101. They are very logical, consistent, and compelling. They also rely on a ton of assumptions that do not hold up in the real world.


If one group in a negotiation has near all the power sometimes society benefits from negotiating on behalf of the one with none.


Hiring the right person is more difficult than you may think, if you've never had the misfortune of doing it yourself. Only a minority of well-known tech companies have an endless supply of talent knocking on their door-steps, and coincidentally, they tend to have above average hiring practices (Google, for example).


Do you think the employer should be able to ask about your heritage then? Whether you have any grandparents of ethnicity X? How long ago did your ancestors arrive in the country?

>you can choose not to work for employers that ask the question in the first place

You can choose that, but not everyone can. That's the issue here, most people on HN never even encounter the problem, but they are definitely not the average employee.


>this is just outlawing information.

So is intellectual property. We live in a world where information is routinely outlawed. Some of us are used to it.

>outlawing questions, especially between private parties in a consensual relationship (applicant and employer), is backwards

It would be a consensual relationship if there were some sort of basic income that were enough to live on with dignity.

It's an article of libertarian faith that the employer/employee relationship is an equal and consensual one, and an easily disprovable one at that: try living with debt, no savings and no job for 5 years.


sure, i agree, so in the spirit of free exchange of information, let's require employers to list their salary range in all job listings, and let's require employers to give salary statistics to prospective employees before salary negotiations. if an employer doesn't want to disclose that information, then they are free to not hire anyone.


Coercion is not freedom my friend -- anything with the word "Require" is a safe bet to be a confused argument for freedom.

But this would be a moot point regardless, because: https://www.glassdoor.com/index.htm


A functioning free market depends on getting as close to perfect information as you can get. You can either have a functioning free market, or freedom to hide information.


how is it different than a company asking someone's sexual orientation, religion, etc during an interview?


Because


I see a lot of people debating free speech rights. There's a simple solution to this. Don't write the law such that it's illegal to ask the question. Write the law such that it's illegal to use the information in hiring decisions or determining how much to pay. If the people involved with making those decisions have that information consider that prima facia proof that the information was used that way.

Now they have their free speech rights. They can indeed ask the question. But parties responsible for certain things cannot have access to that information.

Most reasonable companies will simply not bother to ask rather than jumping through the hoops to do so. But further most people won't have a reason to ask because the information can't be used for the normal reasons to ask.


Comcast's resistance makes it seem like this is a good idea, but I do wonder if this law will actually achieve anything.

Employers will just low ball people, and those who have higher salaries will bargain more and bring up their salary, and people with low salaries will just accept the low ball...


Imagine if media corporations had free speech rights!


They do. When Fox was asked why they lie, their answer was basically free speech.


They are heavily vested in money guiding them in a given direction based on who likes them. On paper they are free speech, in reality, they are tightly bounded where they found themselves, and afraid to threaten the bottom line.


Free Speech != Unbiased Speech.

If state can forbid you speaking something, you dont have free speech. Money does not come into equation when we talk about free speech.


In this particular case, you would emphasize the distinction between speech and general commercial activity. Citizens United says you can't prohibit political speech just because it was via a corporate entity or paid for with a lot of money. But the actual case was about an anti-Hillary Clinton movie. And subsequent applications of the law have concerned things like campaign advertising (e.g. all things that look like traditional political speech).

In this case, we're dealing with a condition of employment. Even if we consider it "speech", it's commercial, not political in nature, which courts could use to distinguish from the Citizens United precedent.


Free speech already has well known limits. Copywrite is an obvious one. Anyway, salary history's are discriminatory which seems like something that probably already has case law.


*Copyright

Discrimination is, AFAIK, only illegal if it's against or impacts workers on the basis of a few specific issues (race, sex, pregnancy, etc). I don't see salary histories fitting the bill, do you?


Considering there is a well known gender bias in terms of salary's the connection seems very clear.

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/20/upshot/as-women-take-over...


Economic status is not a protected class.


Look up "disparate impact" sometime.


One of the more out there free speech defenses no?


Interesting that various people here are horrified by restrictions on what you can ask in an interview. In the UK there are various restrictions on what you are allowed to ask, such as a candidates age. Actually the main risk to a business from this is a careless interviewer asking by mistake.

An enlightened employer should not find any of this restricting at all. All of the worst interviewers I have faced have always asked about my salary, and recruitment consultants always do (they also tend to lie about your expectations to potential employers in order to get interviews). It is a deliberate attempt to screw you down and is totally unnecessary.


I personally know of a case where someone got rejected because they asked for too much compared to his previous salary, even though the person who got hired was offered more money(but it was a smaller increase percentage wise over his previous job). Basically guy was brilliant in the interview, engineering team said they want him, but HR rejected him because he said he wants 80k, while he was making 60k previously(he worked outside of London before). HR instead hired a guy who interviewed much worse, but he only asked for an increase of 5k(from 90k to 95k).


> HR instead hired....

Well, there's the problem right there. HR should only have relatively minimal input into the hiring process, unless it's hiring someone in HR. Fail a background check, and I can understand HR vetoing a hire; asking for too much salary should be between the candidate, the hiring manager and their available budget.


Wow, that HR sounds utterly incompetent.


That HR sounds like all HR departments I have ever had anything to do with.


Yeesh, that's super depressing. Not that I know anything about running HR departments, but that betrays such basic inability to uh, think that I can't really imagine how that could be ubiquitous.


I really think HR is a job that nobody should ever do full time. It should be a responsibility that is only ever allocated to someone who has another job to do - ideally someone who has to deal personally with the consequences of HR idiocracy.


Amongst the worst HR practice now is 'keyword searching' CV's against a job spec by people who have no idea what those terms mean.

An acquaintance told me he saw a downturn in contract work offers due to X qualification becoming widespread in his sector. He changed his CV to say 'I don't have X but..' and found traffic returned to normal!


> In the UK there are various restrictions on what you are allowed to ask, such as a candidates age.

In the US, asking the question isn't itself illegal, but it's an incredibly bad idea to ask, because discriminating based on the answer is illegal.


It's only illegal if they can prove that you discriminated based on their age. This is why companies never tell a prospective hire why they've declined to hire them, instead they just tell them that it's a poor culture fit. Poor culture fits aren't illegal, so you can feel safe not hiring based on culture.

Especially if the part of their culture that doesn't fit is a protected class.


> It's only illegal if they can prove that you discriminated based on their age.

If at any time during the interview the employer asks the candidate's age (or any other protected information), the candidate will have a much easier time making a case for that.


On the other hand candidates in the UK (at least) are in the habit of putting dates on their CV for the major events in their life, like school leaving and Uni graduation...so age is kinda obvious.

It is of course OK to seek candidates that are 'early in their careers', as long as you wouldn't turn away an inexperienced older person (and I have employed career changers who were evidently much older than other candidates). Again it is no issue for good employers


> On the other hand candidates in the UK (at least) are in the habit of putting dates on their CV for the major events in their life, like school leaving and Uni graduation...so age is kinda obvious.

True, at least in the most common case. A name on a CV can also suggest nationality and gender, and multiple studies have shown that the name on a CV alone can significantly change the response to an otherwise identical CV.


Again, its only an issue for bad companies, with bad employment practices. The rest of us will be unaffected by the restriction


> Again, its only an issue for bad companies, with bad employment practices. The rest of us will be unaffected by the restriction

Don't you feel that this attitude is dismissive?


I'm hiring right now, into a critical role for me. I have lots of questions for new candidates about what they were doing before at previous employers. However I will not feel the need to ask what they are paid. I have been asked it on several occasions and every time it was an attempt to pay me less than the company had advertised for the role. I can think of so many reasons why someone's pay may have been out of step with their role in the past, and none of it is relevant to how I wish to inventivise them now. So no I don't think it is dismissive


Massachusetts already passed a law that bars companies from asking potential hires about their salary history until after they've made an offer.

(The law is signed, but doesn't go into effect until June.)


I answer what I deem unethical/ unfair lines of questioning with any answer I feel necessary to advantage myself in negotiating. Others should do so as well.


I have chosen to answer that it is irrelevant. I claim I am not driven entirely by money, and therefore I would consider any offer on its total merits, not just salary. A few employers have taken exception to this, luckily I don't have to move jobs right now.

The point is when I was younger I would have told them, under pressure to seem open. Ban it, it is scummy


Most innovation and progress now is at the city level (I'm not the first to say it). Name the last thing government achieved at a national level in the U.S. - there's health care, but that's now looking shaky.

The priority of one major party in the U.S. is to shut down government as much as possible; that party can block progress everywhere but in cities, where they have no power for now. However, they are trying to pass 'pre-emption laws' in many state governments which block cities from doing anything the Republicans in the state capitals don't like. So much for the belief in liberty and local control.


I'd argue in most cases both the federal government and the various state governments have largely stopped governing. They make lots of noise about social issues and do some day-to-day stuff but I don't really see them as doing their jobs in the way they used to. Not making any comments or guesses as to why, just saying that seems to be the world we're living in.


If cities and municipalities are our hope for good governance we're are all pretty screwed. Cities across the country basically bankrupt and state and local governance is rife with corruption.


I don't agree. Is there some way you can back up that claim and be more specific? (Though I think you and I have had this discussion before?)

All human institutions are 'rife with corruption' if the standard is some ideal, but until we adopt our computer overlords we're stuck with people. On a relative scale, I don't see them as so corrupt; and I'm not willing to wait in order to make progress. (EDIT: Name the non-corrupt institution that you want to make these decisions.)

Most importantly, the cities are getting things done.


I believe state and local governments are unable to run a deficit. If the federal government had to play by the same rules it would be bankrupt as well.


> I believe state and local governments are unable to run a deficit.

That's true in at least many places, but they still can borrow from the future by issuing bonds, or by pushing off massive costs like pensions. They underfund pensions now and let the next mayor/governor deal with it; this process repeats until they can't meet the cash flow needed to pay current pensions and are effectively bankrupt.

Remember when Detroit went bankrupt: According to an article I read about it, there were at least two main causes: 1) Going back to at least the 1990s their pensions were overfunded because they would need that money to pay future pensions when the ratio of current workers to retirees would drop. Instead of saving the money, they distributed it to pensioners as a '13th month'. Detroit also invested in some financial engineering instrument sold to them by Wall Street that the city couldn't pay off.


It is important, from a high level, that innovation occur in limited scale. That prevents bad things from cascading everything.


Good. Put the negotiating power back into the hands of the employees. Get an offer. See that it's too low based on previous compensation and then say so. And then proceed from there. I've burned my own ability to negotiate by sharing current salaries before but that was with recruiters.


A society truly run by the people, ala individuals, would have banned this long ago. Just think about it: for an average person, what benefit do they receive by allowing employers to ask about past or current salary information? None.

Wouldn't be surprised if there have been measures to ban this that were ultimately struck down by business people.

The less information that's shared with employers, the more employers will have to refine their actual process for vetting people. Whether this means more accurate metrics, that correlate to actual employee performance, or something else, who knows. Either way, I believe it's good for the people. However, we will have to be careful, if we go this route, to not slip into nepotism (well, more than we already have).


> A society truly run by the people, ala individuals, would have banned this

I'm libertarian-leaning, and statements like these bother me deeply.

If I'm an employer, why ban me from asking some question to a prospective employee? It's a restriction on the employer's freedom.

The job applicant has a right to decline to answer my question (and I have a right to decline to offer a job). Regulating what questions I can ask (i.e. my speech) is a restriction on my freedom.

I recently interviewed for a job, and they asked me what (minimum) base salary I was looking for, and I didn't answer their question, and said that I wanted them to make an offer based on what they thought I was worth. As a result, I ended up getting a higher base salary than I'd expected.

But that detracts from the main point. The reason I oppose such laws and regulations is that I feel like it's an infringement on personal freedom. Employers are made up of people, and regulating their speech and their actions is a limitation on their personal freedom.


> If I'm an employer, why ban me from asking some question to a prospective employee? It's a restriction on the employer's freedom.

Please see ch4s3's excellent itemized response to an earlier thread for a concise summary of the reasons why this can't be framed simply as an issue of free speech.

The key point is the power differential. While you may be lucky enough to be highly skilled and have enough cultural capital to refuse intrusive questions like this and still find suitable employment on your own terms, many people in our society simply are not in that position. Allowing large powerful corporations to insist that prospective employees disclose their earnings history will simply place downward pressure on wages.

I sympathize with the sentiment, and it is always important to question any limits on speech. But once you factor in the issue of power, pure libertarian ideals will cause greater exploitation of those who have less power to begin with.


There is a power differential but it is not high. You can find another employer (just don't apply to employers that ask these questions).

Indeed, if most people refuse such employers, the employers will have to raise their wages or stop asking that question.

They're only able to ask this question because some employees are fine with it. So let both voluntarily discuss that question.


In this specific instance, though, doesn't it seems like a good trade for society to take away the rights of employers in exchange for making it more difficult for Comcast to do business?

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13452618


You're asking the wrong question. Why allow it? Employers and people are not equivalent in my mind, even if they are the same, legally.

Your story is nice, but I've also heard stories where people are rejected immediately because they didn't share. Sure, you could say that people shouldn't work for those companies (and they shouldn't), but not everyone has the luxury of being able to interview anywhere, nor the ability to be accepted anywhere.


> You're asking the wrong question. Why allow it?

No, this is definitely the wrong question. Things shouldn't be banned by default and then we debate about why to unban (allow) it.


Not sure what you're getting at. No one said things should be banned by default. Now that it is up for debate, as you mention, the question still is: why allow it? What benefits does it serve?


I'm rather indifferent on the issue - I guess by default that means I'm in favour of the current status quo

But if you're going to ban something you have to have a good reason to ban it, not lack of a reason to keep it.


Ah, well, I'm more of a "ban by default" kind of person. As for the answer to implicit question:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13452727


> If I'm an employer, why ban me from asking some question to a prospective employee?

The reason to ban employers from asking this specific question is because it makes it easier to perpetuate a cycle where a person who is underpaid at one point in their career continues to be underpaid in the future. Note that I am only saying it makes it easier to perpetuate that cycle. I am not arguing that it guarantees that cycle for everyone.

> It's a restriction on the employer's freedom.

It absolutely is. Why is that a problem in this specific case? It is not being restricted arbitrarily. I just described the clear and rational reason to want to restrict employers' freedom to ask for a candidate's salary history.

At that point simply stating that it violates a freedom isn't good enough. You need to either:

A) Argue that I am wrong and asking for a salary history doesn't make it easier to perpetuate a cycle of someone being underpaid. Note that saying "They could refuse to answer" or "They could lie" or "They could find a different employer who doesn't ask" is not arguing that I am wrong. I agree that all of those things are possible. I agree that some people will actually do them and sometimes that will cause them to stop being underpaid. But I also know that some people will not do those things and will tell the employer their previous salary and are more likely to continue to be underpaid as a result.

B) Argue that someone being underpaid relative to others with the same skills and responsibilities is not a negative thing and so there is no need to try to prevent it.

C) Argue that restricting the specific freedom of employers to ask for a candidate's salary history causes more harm than it prevents. It is definitely a good rule of thumb that restricting freedom is normally bad, but that does not mean it is inherently bad to restrict any freedom. For any specific freedom there will be specific reasons why it is a problem to restrict it. If you ask me why it's a problem to restrict the freedom of the press to report negative things about world leaders, I can give you specific reasons. If you ask me why it's a problem to restrict the freedom of a gay couple to marry, I can give you specific reasons. But if you ask me why it's a problem to restrict the freedom of employers to ask for salary histories, I honestly can't think of a specific reason.


Perhaps this can be countered by more free speech? Perhaps we should allow union representatives to visit workplaces and speak to employees in the parking lot without employer interference?


That isn't speech, that's trespassing. Or would you like people to be able to freely visit your home without your "interference"?

On the other hand, union representatives are free to speak to employees outside the workplace; that's speech. (And freedom of association, for that matter.)


It isn't trespassing when a OSHA inspector visits a faculty. So it does appear that exceptions exist. Why not in this case?


An OSHA inspector is a government official, performing inspections in the course of their duties to ensure compliance with health and safety regulations; they can only do so as precisely prescribed by said regulations. Along the same lines, it isn't trespassing if the police come to your home with a warrant in accordance with due process to investigate a possible crime.

Neither of those serves as precedent to allow a random non-governmental person access to private property for any other reason.


So its just a matter of phrasing. If I were to create a governmental body responsible in assisting labor unions in communicating with workers. Then such a representative could be granted that power?


What problem, precisely, are you attempting to solve? What right, precisely, are you attempting to defend? What makes that problem more important than the rights of a private association of people to their privacy and the security of their property? If you want to argue that the balance between two rights suggests that one right should override another, you should 1) identify both rights, and 2) explain why no possible approach exists that could preserve both. You haven't done (1), and you haven't made any case for a lack of alternatives.

Such communication (unlike the inspection of on-premises equipment and workplace safety, or the investigation of a possible crime) is already readily possible via any number of other means. You are, for instance, already free to stand just outside of such a campus and attempt to communicate with employees there. You can even get a pile of people together with picket signs, and if others agree with you you'll get plenty of sympathy. Employees who are already members of a union are also free to speak to other employees.

You are free to speak; you are not free to force others to listen, or to force others to provide you with a platform to speak from.

Trespassing on a private campus to tell people what organizations they should or shouldn't associate with seems approximately as appropriate (and about as welcome) as trespassing on a private campus to tell them who they should vote for, or to tell them about a product they should buy.

You'd have much better luck getting yet another mandatory notice added to the list of "conspicuously posted" notices, which would serve the same function of communication. On the other hand, what would you even have such a notice say? Those other notices exist to inform people about corresponding laws that exist.

(Strictly speaking, a government can attempt to pass a law giving itself any power it likes. For instance, a government could attempt to pass a law giving itself the power to enter a private residence for some random purpose it thinks important. Such laws can also be overturned by courts in defense of more important rights, such as freedom of association and private property. So saying that "a government could pass a law" doesn't actually constitute an argument.)

(Also worth noting: this entire argument relates solely to an attempt to imbue unions with the force of law and trample other rights in the process; it is unrelated to arguments for or against unions themselves.)


> Regulating what questions I can ask (i.e. my speech) is a restriction on my freedom.

I don't believe this type of question has ever been held to be political speech, so the government isn't bound to protect it. Allowing employers extra power to depress wages isn't in the interest of the government, or the employees. There are more parties interested in opposing this type of power imbalance than maintaining it, so it's being banned. Democracy isn't meant to protect you money.


> held to be political speech

Freedom of Speech extends well beyond just political speech.

It protects all forms of speech. Where did you get the idea that only political speech ought to be protected? Under your theory, who gets to determine what constitutes political speech?

Is my freedom to criticize a religion protected? Or is that kind of speech not protected as it does not fall under your definition of "political speech"?


It is bizarre that so many people tolerate this behavior by employers yet also cling to ideas about compensation being linked to the value of the work being performed (things like 'work hard and you will make more'). If compensation is determined based primarily upon the value of the work being done, prior salary could not be more irrelevant.

But of course, what people are paid has nothing to do with the value of their work any longer. Computers and software unfortunately make that socially untenable. They make employees so abundantly productive, and increase that productivity so quickly, that it would have to translate into very high salaries and high annual raises for many, if not most, employees. It doesn't take a genius to look at the average profitability of corporations overall since 1980 to see the meteoric rise coupled with total wage stagnation for non-executives.

Get 2% more productive, then a 2% raise is acceptable. Get 100% more productive, then a comparable raise is unacceptable. Especially if "the computer is doing all the work."


Nobody who actually thinks about salary thinks that salaries are set by the MPL. The ceiling on salaries is set by the MPL. The level is set by the available supply of labor and negotiations during the hiring process.


I understand the goal of this law but don't see how it solves it. I usually ask people what their current salary is now. I want to offer them (at least) a modest raise to come here. I want them to be happy and excited. I also want to not waste a ton of time negotiating salary if they want 50K more then I have available in my budget.

You are worth whatever you can get someone to pay you. Some people may come in with a lower ask but then you have yourself, are they a bargain or are they just less talented? If they come in high, are they overpriced or are they just that good?

I also think this only works for the employee if there is a shortage in this field and employers are desperate (but the market will force those prices up) or if you are trying to just get more than your experience might warrant. Let's say you are a knowledge worker making $80K and hoping to go to $90K. So, in the new rules, the employer asks for your expected salary and you say "give me your best offer". The employer will either get annoyed and work with the candidate that said $85K in response or they low ball you at $60K because they can play games too. You say "no" and they ask what you are looking for, rinse and repeat. It seems like you still end up at the same place with the same result except the negotiation process sucked. As a candidate, I don't see the downside of saying I want X+ dollars. I'd rather know about the job and culture and other things than $5K more or less.


> I want to offer them (at least) a modest raise to come here. I want them to be happy and excited. I also want to not waste a ton of time negotiating salary if they want 50K more then I have available in my budget

If this were the case, you should ask what salary the desire, rather than what their current salary is.

Also, assuming that you're not the owner or otherwise the sole decision maker, others in the company do not share you're enlightened view. For various reasons, they seek to pay as little as possible to employ an acceptable minimum standard of employee.


I usually respond to this question with a question of my own:

"Are you asking this question because you don't have faith in your own ability to interview and value employees or because you are trying to lowball me?"


I understand what you are saying but I personally don't think any amount of interviewing will ever tell me exactly how much value an employee will give me in the next year.

[Serious] Do you think this is possible? I can think of no way except to put them on a 3 month contract to see what they are really worth and I don't think that is what candidates are looking for.


Yes, I got this from what you said:

"Some people may come in with a lower ask but then you have yourself, are they a bargain or are they just less talented?"

shrug I have faith in my interviewing skills. I was interviewing for a position for about 5 months for a very picky employer. I interviewed a lot of people who were good but expensive and even more who were cheap but not so good. Eventually I spotted a bargain and they snapped him up.

I don't really believe in bargains though. It takes a lot of time and effort to find one and they tend to leave quickly once they've figured out that they underpriced themselves.

Most places I've worked I've done so initially on a short term contract. I prefer it mainly because I can charge more.


If it really wasn't about offering candidates the absolute minimum you have to (low balling them), why not just make your hiring budget known, hell make it part of your advertisement, this way candidates who are more expensive won't waste your time because they won't even apply.


If he just advertises his budget is 100k... The guy he could have hired for 70k gets hired at 100k. That's wasted 30k to the company. Do that for many roles and your company is now out of business.


You're essentially agreeing that the point is to lowball the candidate.


Ya exactly. As the person owning the business, the less you pay your staff the bigger your paycheck. Its direct 1:1 for a private company.

As a person being a employee, you want to make the most you can.

The goals are directly competing, hence the classic struggle. Always going to be some give and take.


In practice not every employer is like this and the ones that are tend to engender resentment, shoddy workmanship and a high turnover of skilled employees and a low turnover of useless employees without options.

There's value in being explicitly fair and upfront about compensation.


Your example. You don't value the candidate. If you want that candidate then offer them what you believe they are worth to the value they will bring to your company.


I made a similar response below but how can any amount of interviewing give me anything but a vague notion of the amount of value they will provide the company over the next twelve months.

I assume that their previous employer, who had them working there for years, is a much better judge of value they can provide. So if I am offering more than that, I don't see how I am not valuing the candidate.


This is why probation periods exist. Either you value the individual or you don't. You either both agree on a fixed amount or you don't. If the individual says no. He feels undervalued.


There are two things that spring out instantly.

First, the motivation is to close gender pay inequality. Assuming such a thing exists (women get paid less for the same job), where is the evidence that this policy would reduce the supposed gap?

Second, they're prohibiting you from asking, not prohibiting employers from not choosing you for failing to answer with the truth.

It's part of negotiation. Would it be legal to ask "what's the least amount of money we can give you for you to accept the job?" (Which, btw, is the question they're indirectly asking you.)

Why are they trying to outlaw negotiation skills for a somewhat unproven premise and an unclear cause and effect relationship?


I support this, but I also think employers should be banned from requiring a credit check for employment. There are regulations on discriminating on race, gender, etc. The one missing piece is discriminating against the poor (which indirectly tie back to race, gender). It's still amazing to me that this is a practice that's still allowed for a society that purports to value social mobility.


It always amazes me when I hear about people asking this question. Don't these hiring managers consider for a second how intrusive and rude it is? Aren't they concerned they may come across as douchebags for asking it? And yet I've been asked this several times by people that act like it's no big deal, like asking how was the traffic on the way in. Are they under pressure from the top? Or are hiring managers in general lacking in scruples?


I think it actually plays both ways - it's a way for me to give them an idea of what I'm expecting.


Intrusive, yes. Rude, no it's not.


> Councilman William Greenlee, a Democrat, who sponsored the bill, says the measure wouldn’t prevent employers from setting a fair salary, bar salary negotiations with prospective hires, or keep job candidates from voluntarily sharing their pay history. But if passed, violators who quizzed would-be hires about salary could face fines up to $2,000.

Even if passed, the penalty hardly seems disincentivizing.


A proportional penalty based on the salary of the position would make more sense. If you're hiring at McDonalds at minimum wage, $2000 is a bigger penalty than if you're hiring an engineer.


Asking doesn't hurt anyone. However giving certain answers could.

What prevents employees from claiming that this information is "confidential" (polite version of "it's not your business").

Or outright lying about it?


Asking hurts the people who give bad answers, which is unfair since in many cases those answers are irrelevant to the job being interviewed for.

Claiming the information is confidential may hurt your chances of getting the job, or simply get the "we need this information or we can't continue, sorry, it's policy" answer.

Lying about it benefits the liars (assuming they lie intelligently). I suspect that offers are frequently based on previous pay, so simply claiming your previous pay was higher would get you a better offer. Is lying really the behavior we want to incentivize?


>Is lying really the behavior we want to incentivize?

Oh gosh. You make it sound bad that way! It's not 'lying', it is 'strategic disinformation'.


Honestly I have answered slightly under what I wanted to earn.


Sure.

Turn this question to your advantage to "test waters" on the opposite side.


Most people want to be helpful, friendly and open. It's how we're generally socialized, and that's normally a pretty good thing. Most people might not be comfortable lying about this.

Especially if, in the course of a job interview, they're afraid it could count against them, not to disclose that information.

The new employer doesn't need to know it, best to make blanket rule that prohibits them from trying to get it.


My employer asks this question. I refused to answer when asked in person/phone. As we got further in the hiring process they asked as part of the form they fill in to setup the background check. Again I refused to answer this question. I failed the background check due to this.

When we discussed it they said it was necessary so they could verify if I had lied about my salary when I'd given it previously. I pointed out that I had never given this information. HR insisted that I must have since they require it. Round and round we went for a while.

Eventually they let it go and hired me anyway.

So to answer your question. Companies will typically call up your previous employer and ask if the salary you provided them is correct.

Lying on your application form is almost always cause to fire. So if they ever find out you lied you about your previous salary you can be fired on the spot.


> So to answer your question. Companies will typically call up your previous employer and ask if the salary you provided them is correct.

Very unlikely. I don't know a single company that would reply to that request. That's sky high in terms of liability.

> Lying on your application form is almost always cause to fire. So if they ever find out you lied you about your previous salary you can be fired on the spot.

You drank the HR FUD too much. A company doesn't go through all the troubles to hire someone just to get rid of him the next week for some stupid forms that noone cares about.


Did you have an offer letter at that point? Usually verification happens as a final step. My past pay has no bearing on what price I agree to do future work for. If a company absolutely insists I inform them I'm happy to provide this as a final form of verification once we've agreed to move forward and agreed on comp.


Lying is not a good way to start off a business relationshiop.


It's not lying, it's doing business.


[Edit: if a potential employer asked my previous salary] I would have zero qualms (zero) saying any number I wanted. If I was asked for paystubs I would say I'll get them later and add that the number may not have been exact, it could be off substantially I want to be upfront about that. If I have to put a number in a form and sign that I swear it is accurate, I would put an asterisk and explain that it is indicative of what I want them to think.

I don't see ethical problems with this behavior. It is practically what I actually would do.

If HR absolutely cannot start without my notarized sworn copy of pay stubs then I would not work there, and their loss. For anyone else, HR's job is to find qualified people, they are not going to kick you out once they've started onboarding you.

You don't have to lie, but you don't have to answer their questions any more than they have to ask yours about their company - HR doesn't work far from payroll, if as part of your interviews you asked to know the CEO's salary, would they tell you? Or the ratio between then lowest and highest salary at the company? (2.5x, 3x, 5x, 10x, 50x, 100x)

Things don't have to be hard and fast. If they don't like how I roll they can hire someone else. If I don't like their level of transparency I can refuse their offer.

Plus they're free to fire me if they don't like me.

You should answer illegal questions the same way. e.g. in an interview, how old are you. Say whatever you want, just add "I don't like to give am exact age just use that". If they're surprised that a 55 year old shows up too bad for them. Fire you if they don't like it. You're not paid to be 25 and you're not paid to have a certain salary history. You're paid to do a certain job - everything else is just friction.

Say whatever you want, as long as you can do the job. Don't lie about degrees or credentials.

Don't practice law or perform surgery without a license.


> and add that the number may not have been exact, it could be off substantially

Beyond pure monetary compensation, there are various non-monetary parameters - quality of health plan, quality and employee cost of dental plan, parental leave policy, 401(k) matching, mobile phone or Internet reimbursement, employer stock purchase plan - that any random number feels like a good ballpark estimate.

E.g. how does one value a health PPO with monthly premium $298 per family vs Kaiser HMO at $152 a month? A 5-day vs 3-week parental leave? The answer is highly dependent on personal circumstances, such as distance from home to the nearest Kaiser facility and whether or not someone in the family is expecting. The value of either might be $0 if interviewee plans to stay covered by spousal health plan and does not plan to have children.


I'm not sure if you got my meaning - I added the part you quote at the top of your comment as a "CYA" (cover your ass.) For example say someone is a 22 year old very expert programmer with a degree from a top school who for some reason is only making $35k. I would advise them to have zero qualms to lie and say they are making $75K (with the cya line that this number could be off substantially) if they were interviewing for a job paying $80k. Because they are being paid to do a job, not to be of a certain age or have a certain salary history. That's my opinion anyway.

If what you've given is further cya points - then by all means, use them.


I am glad there is at least one person in this thread who can handle a negotiation properly.


Massachusetts did this last summer. Seems like a strange trend. Not necessarily bad (though it makes things harder for me as a hiring manager) but I wonder what group is pushing for this. Laws don't tend to get passed unless they're backed by special interests.


How does such a law makes things harder for you as a hiring manger?


Because you have to get someone all the way to an offer until you know what their salary expectations are.

I think it's a good rule, but it is harder for managers. Especially managers who want to find a cheap hire.


If I understand it correctly, the rule does not forbid asking salary expectations up front.


There isn't anything stopping you from asking expectations. Just history, which removes some of your leverage (arguably a good thing).

And people looking for "cheap hires" deserve to be hit hard by this the most IMHO.

Leveling the playing field with information asymmetry is a good thing.


I'd say that preventing potential employers from asking questions about salary while allowing applicants to ask whatever they want is creating, not removing, assymmetry. In both cases, parties are free to refuse to answer questions.

One could argue that the potential employer is in a position of power and should therefore be constrained but I don't see that as the case at all these days, at least not in the tech industry.


There's also no prohibition of advertising the job with a salary range, which would also solve the problem.


Can we go a little further than this? Can we require employers to post the details of the compensation package that comes with each job? That would save a lot of time for all involved and obviate the need to even ask this question.


No. It will stop us from bargaining and pushing for biding wars.


You'll just front load the "bidding war". You will still be able to negotiate incidentals like PTO, signing bonus, etc. When recruiters from e.g. Japan or some European countries reach out to me it's easy for me to dismiss them out of hand since their comp is stated up front. This is also more fair to demographics which don't like to negotiate, and women in particular.


I added 10k to my salary last time I was asked.


You may have stumbled upon a solution here. Make it legal to ask the question, but also make it legal to lie about the answer (including doctoring paystubs, etc). Seems like a uniquely libertarian solution.


I don't think it really solves the problem. Making it legal to lie means employer can't sue you for fraud, but they can still fire you if they find out.


Speaking in terms of total comp (including benefits value) is helpful too. Many of them have very real dollar values associated with them.


I'll either politely refuse to answer or if I have thought about it beforehand then I'll give a number that guides them towards the salary I am looking for this time around.

I don't really mind the question. It's a little rude and it's only asked to get a gauge of salary expectations so why not ask what the current salary expectations are directly.


I've actually flat out said "that it isn't really relevant, but can you share your range and we'll see if that makes sense once I learn more about the role?"

It has worked a few times. Some get surprised when someone tries to flip that on them. The ones that balk get dropped from consideration.


They'll always consider the low end of the range while you'll always consider the end.

It's not a practical reply.


That's always a possibility. I usually frame it as something more like "I still need to learn a lot more about this role in order to tell you an amount that would make sense for me, and you still likely need time to learn more about what value I can add. If you can share your range, we can make sure we're at least in the right ballpark, and if it makes sense to move forward I'm confident we can arrive on a comp package that works for everyone."

Very often this question gets asked on initial screener calls. They don't know how to really evaluate you or what you bring to the table, and you know whatever high level thing the recruiter was told about the role. The purpose of the call is to determine in the quickest amount of time whether it makes sense to move forward to a deeper, more formal discussion about the opportunity with the people actually qualified to discuss the role at that level (hiring manager, etc.). Make it clear that you are interested in the entire comp package and not just salary. I haven't really had that much resistance to this.

At the end of the day it is on you to do your research on what they need to pay you for this to make sense, and be happy with that number. If they won't go for it, you tell them what that minimum happy number is, and if they won't get there one way or another (extra vacation, etc.), then you need to pass (assuming that is a realistic option for you).


That's too bad. My salary history tells a good story about me, that employers have found me more valuable than average. It's a pretty tangible and direct signal. In an interview it's convenient for them to ask and for me not to have to awkwardly bring it up.


I should think it would be easier for you to avoid the awkwardness and bring it up anyway than it is for people to resist the pressure of having to answer the question now.


Firstly, in our land of secret compensation your salary has much more to do with your negotiation skills than it does your performance. Secondly, if you want your potential employers to know anything about you, you just tell them.


Most people don't realize that companies can get salary history from a number of sources. ADP actually provides this as a service to larger customers.


Are you saying ADP will give my salary information to a company I might apply to? That doesn't seem ethical. Do you have a source on this? I am surprised to hear it.


When you give them permission to run a "background check" on you then they most likely will consult with a database that may have your employment information in it.

http://www.annualmedicalreport.com/do-a-total-background-che...

>The Work Number (a service of TALX / Equifax Inc.) – The Work Number is a paid employment verification database operated by the TALX Corporation (owned by Equifax Inc.). The Work Number database contains more than 192 million entries and is used by by over 50,000 organizations to verify employment data... Your Employment Data Report contains (1) employment and income information from your employers who send data to The Work Number, (2) information about lenders, credit agencies, and other verifiers that have received your data, and (3) any messages, alerts, or statements you have requested be put in your data file


Paywalled, so I can't read it. Curious if this would ban asking about even current salary. That will make things interesting in Philly.


Try hitting the "web" button under the link and navigating in through google.

If that doesn't work, I made you a pastebin of the raw text: http://pastebin.com/kS5QPEiF


It seems like the WSJ has closed the HTTP Google referer paywall loophole. I've tried a couple of browsers/OSes over the last week and I can't view any articles. TY though for the pastebin.


The trick is opening the search result link in an incognito window (if you're using Chrome). It's a pretty nutty loophole, surprised it's gone on as long as it has.


Every regulatory hurdle to hiring decreases the propensity of businesses to hire marginal candidates. The easier you make it to hire and fire people the more marginal candidates will be given the chance. There is no free-lunch here.


All of my employers are already banned.


[flagged]


And then lose out to the majority who either don't see how answering the question could be bad for them or just can't see that not answering is an option...




Registration is open for Startup School 2019. Classes start July 22nd.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: