Law360 reports that a New Jersey legislative panel on Thursday advanced bills that would bar employers from asking job applicants about their salary history and increase penalties for companies that run afoul of labor laws, measures that supporters say would help tackle gender bias and deter wage violations.
The state Senate Labor Committee approved the Democrat-backed S2536 and A3480, twin bills that amend the state's Law Against Discrimination by removing previous pay as a hiring consideration, and S3199, a measure that raises the fines and incarceration ranges for wage-and-hour law violations.
The salary history legislation aims to promote pay equity in New Jersey, according to Sen. Nia H. Gill, D-Essex, and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, sponsors of the Senate version. “The wage gap exists regardless of education or industry,” Gill told the committee during the hearing. At one point during the hearing, Gill noted that low wages are “not an indicator of [women’s] ability to do their job.”
The bill prohibits employers from requiring the applicant’s prior wages, salaries or benefits and relying on the applicant’s salary history at any stage in the hiring process, including finalizing the employment contract. Under the measure, employers cannot inquire, in writing or otherwise, about salary history unless the applicant voluntarily offers authorization.
S2536 was introduced in September and now heads to the Senate for consideration. A3480 received full passage by the Assembly on May 22 and now awaits further consideration in the Senate.“The impact of wage disparities between men and women is pervasive, even following women into retirement,” Assemblyman Troy Singleton, D-Burlington, one of the sponsors of the Assembly version of the legislation, said in a statement after the hearing.
“Because women typically are paid less than men during working years, when women retire, they receive less income from Social Security, pensions and other sources than retired men because these benefits usually are based on earnings.”
New Jersey joins more than 20 other states considering similar legislation, according to the lawmakers, who cited figures from the National Conferences of State Legislatures. New York City, Massachusetts and Philadelphia have already passed laws barring salary history as an employment consideration, the lawmakers said.