Massachusetts just took a huge step towards closing the wage gap. As The New York Times reports, the state passed a law on August 1st making it illegal for employers to ask about a candidate’s salary history during a job interview.

The salary question is a notorious part of the job hunting process. Give a number that's too low, and you could get stuck with a small salary; give a number that’s too high, and you could get pushed out of the candidate pool altogether. This can be frustrating for anyone, but it’s especially detrimental to women and minorities who are more likely to come from jobs that underpaid them to begin with.

Massachusetts’s new law is the first of its kind passed in the U.S. The hope is that more states looking to eliminate the perpetuation of unfair pay will eventually follow suit. When the law goes into effect in July 2018 it will also address another issue that could help promote equal pay: salary transparency. Employers will no longer be able to ban their employees from discussing salaries, making Massachusetts the 13th state to have such a law on the books.

If you’re still waiting on your state to pass legislation that tackles the pay gap, negotiating wages can be a tricky prospect. Until then, keep this tip in mind: Just because an employer is allowed to ask about salary history doesn’t mean you're required to answer. Check out our article from earlier this year on the subject for an idea of what to say instead.

[h/t The New York Times]

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