Gill & Weinberg Legislation Barring Employers from Asking About Salary History Advances

State Seal

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Nia H. Gill and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg that would bar employers from asking job applicants about their salary history, or relying on it to determine salary at any stage in the hiring process, was approved today by the Senate Labor Committee.

The legislation (S2536) is part of an effort to promote pay equity in New Jersey and to prevent discrimination. According to the National Women’s Law Center, on average, women in New Jersey make 82 cents for every dollar paid to men. The national average is 80 cents. African American women in New Jersey typically make 58 cents for every dollar paid to white men, and Latina women make 43 cents for every dollar paid to white men. An Economic Policy Institute report also showed that the wage gap between African-American and white workers is larger today in the United States than in 1979.

“Hiring practices that take into consideration an applicant’s past salary only perpetuate the pay disparities that exist for women and minorities, often beginning early in their careers. Eliminating salary history as part of the hiring discussion so that businesses are more inclined to assess candidates based on their education, experience and knowledge of the job is important to creating wage fairness in New Jersey,” said Senator Gill (D-Essex and Passaic). “While we certainly have much work to do to eliminate wage discrimination in the workplace, this is a critical part of that effort.”

“Salaries should be based on an applicant’s qualifications, not their past wages,” said Senator Weinberg (D-Bergen). “A job candidate’s salary history is not only irrelevant, but could continue wage discrimination an employee suffered in previous jobs. This bill would help to combat wage discrimination based on gender but also on race, age, nationality and other characteristics.”

The bill amends the “Law Against Discrimination,” to strengthen protections against employment discrimination and thereby promote equal pay for women by prohibiting any employer from:

  • screening a job applicant based on the applicant’s wage or salary history, including by requiring the applicant’s prior wages, salaries or benefits satisfy any minimum or maximum criteria, or relying on the applicant’s salary in determining a salary amount for the applicant at any stage in the hiring process, including finalizing the employment contract;
  • inquiring, in writing or otherwise, about the salary history of a job applicant, including, but not limited to, the applicant’s compensation and benefits, except that the employer may seek the history if the prospective employee voluntarily, without employer coercion, provides the employer with a written authorization; and
  • taking reprisals against any employee for disclosing to any other employee or former employee of the employer information regarding the job title, occupational category, rate of compensation, the gender, race, ethnicity, military status, or national origin of the employee or any other employee or former employee of the employer.

More than 20 states are considering legislation that would bar employers from asking about a job applicant’s pay history, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. New York City, Massachusetts, and Philadelphia have all passed laws to prohibit employers from inquiring about salary history.

The committee approved the bill by a vote of 4-1. It next heads to the Senate for consideration.