Assembly Approves Downey Bill to Strengthen Equal Pay Protections for New Jersey Workers

Aiming to close the significant wage gap between women and men, legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Joann Downey and Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling to prohibit employers from requiring job applicants to disclose their salary history in the application process was approved Monday by the full Assembly by a vote of 53-24-2.

“In an ideal world, your gender would not influence how much you earn at work. But that’s not the world we live in,” said Assemblywoman Downey. 

“This bill provides a means of narrowing the wage gap by making it less likely for employers to unintentionally perpetuate the gap by basing salary offers for new hires on their previous salary, which has a disproportionate impact on female hires."

“The gender wage gap puts women at a disadvantage before they even enter the workforce,” said Assemblyman Houghtaling. “These provisions can help put an end to this injustice by ensuring that salaries for new hires are not based on a system that is inherently biased against women.”

The bill (A-1094) would prohibit employers from screening a job applicant based on his or her salary history, including prior wages, salaries or benefits. It would also make it unlawful for an employer to require an applicant’s salary history to satisfy any minimum or maximum criteria.

Under the measure, an employer may still consider salary history in determining salary, benefits and other compensation for the applicant, and may verify the applicant’s salary history, if an applicant voluntarily, without coercion, provides the employer with that history. An applicant’s refusal to volunteer compensation information will not be considered in any employment decisions.

Additionally, an employer who violates the bill’s provisions would be liable for a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed $1,000 for the first violation, $5,000 for the second, and $10,000 for each subsequent violation. Punitive damages, a standard remedy for violations under the Law Against Discrimination, would not be available for violations falling under this bill.

The companion bill in the Senate (S-3516) has been referred the Senate Labor Committee for consideration.


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