Senator Nia H. Gill (D-Montclair) and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) this month introduced legislation 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.
The legislation (S2536) is part of an effort to promote pay equity in New Jersey and to prevent discrimination, according to Gill and Weinberg. It comes as Census Bureau statistics show that women in New Jersey earned on average 69.8 cents to a man’s dollar in 2015, according to a published report. A recent report also found that the wage gap between African-American and white workers is larger today than in 1979.
“We have much work to do to eliminate wage discrimination in the workplace,” said Gill. “Unfortunately, hiring practices that take into consideration an applicant’s past salary only perpetuate the disparities that exist. Eliminating salary history as part of the discussion so that businesses are more inclined to assess candidates based on their education, experience and knowledge of the job is one way to help create wage fairness in New Jersey.”
“Salaries should be based on an applicant’s qualifications, not their past wages,” said Weinberg. “A job candidate’s past salary is not only irrelevant, but could continue wage discrimination an employee suffered in previous jobs. This bill would strengthen protections against employment discrimination based on gender but also on race, age, nationality and other characteristics.”
According to the Senate Majority Office, the bill would also prohibit an employer from inquiring, in writing or otherwise, about the salary history of an applicant, and from taking reprisals against an employee for disclosing to any other employee, or former employee, information regarding their job title, occupational category, rate of compensation, the gender, race, ethnicity, military status, or national origin.
A second bill (S2535) introduced by the senators would prohibit an employer from requiring or requesting that employees enter into a severance pay agreement resulting in an employee releasing any claims, or barring any potential claims in the future, against the employer regarding gender discrimination or harassment. Any such provision would be void and unenforceable.
The senators introduced the bills on Sept. 15 and referred them to the Senate Labor Committee.