Salary Inquiry Ban Advances

Legislation (A1094) that would prohibit an employer from asking about or considering an applicant’s wage or salary history when considering them for employment, or negotiating an offer of employment, was reported from the Senate Labor Committee Monday. The measure passed the Assembly in March. The Senate companion (S559) passed the upper chamber last year and is currently pending Assembly Labor Committee action.

The measure is expected to receive final legislative approval along partisan lines and be signed into law by the governor.

Intended to promote pay equity, more than 20 states have enacted or are considering similar bills according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. New York City, Massachusetts, and Philadelphia have all passed laws to prohibit employers from asking about salary history.

The legislation failed final enactment during the previous legislature when then Gov. Chris Christie vetoed it. It is one of a list of workplace measures that candidate Phil Murphy pledged to support while campaigning for governor. Since taking office last year, he has already signed into law several of those measures including the minimum wage increase, mandatory paid sick leave, expansion of the state’s paid family leave law, and pay equity. 

Federal legislation taking aim at pay inequities includes a provision that would prohibit employers from asking job applicants about previous salaries.

The provision is part of the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 7) which the U.S. House approved March by a 242-187 vote. The measure is billed by supporters as a long overdue update to the federal Equal Pay Act. It had 239 cosponsors including all twelve members New Jersey’s U.S. House delegation.

Supporters argue that basing starting salaries on what a job candidate made at their previous workplace perpetuates the existing pay gap between men and women.