Bill Bars Employers from Asking About Salary History
TRENTON – Today, legislation sponsored by Senator Nia H. Gill and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg that would promote pay equity and help prevent discrimination in New Jersey, by barring employers from asking job applicants about their salary history, or relying on it to determine salary at any stage in the hiring process, cleared the Senate Labor Committee.
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 a white worker is larger today in the United States than in 1979.
“Employers should base hiring salaries on a candidate’s qualifications and the value of the position to the company, not on the wages earned at past jobs. This is a practice that allows businesses to hire at the lowest possible salary and perpetuates the pay disparities that exist for women and minorities. This practice often begins early in their careers, causing them to struggle to earn more money as they move up the corporate ladder,” said Senator Gill (D-Essex/Passaic). “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.”
“Women continue to make less than men for the same work, so basing a hiring salary on someone’s previous wages only continues the pay discrimination they may have suffered. A job candidate’s salary history is irrelevant, and should not be relied upon at any point in the hiring process,” said Senator Weinberg (D-Bergen). “This bill would help to combat wage discrimination based on gender but also on race, age, nationality and other characteristics.”
S-559 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 bill was released from the Senate Labor Committee with a vote of 3-1, and next heads to the Senate for further consideration.