STATE BILL SIGNED INTO LAW THIS MONTH REINFORCES THE PUBLIC POLICY GOALS OF THE DIANE B. ALLEN EQUAL PAY ACT BY PROHIBITING DISCRIMINATION AS APPLIED TO SALARY HISTORY OF JOB APPLICANTS

Assembly Bill 1094, which prohibits employers from screening applicants based on the applicant’s salary history, was signed into law on July 25, 2019 after passing in the New Jersey Assembly and Senate earlier this year. Under this new legislation, it shall be an unlawful employment practice for any employer:
(1) To screen a job applicant based on the applicant’s salary history, including, but not limited to the applicant’s prior wages, salaries or benefits; or
(2) To require that the applicant’s salary history satisfy any minimum or maximum criteria

In accordance with this new legislation, employers may still consider salary history in determining salary, benefits, and other compensation for the applicant. They may also verify the applicant’s salary history, so long as the applicant voluntarily provides the employers with this information without the employers’ prompting or coercion. However, employers may not use this salary history, even if voluntarily provided by the applicants, to disqualify applicants from employment. They also cannot require applicants to fall into a specific range of minimum or maximum criteria in order to be considered for the position. Additionally, employers may not consider applicants’ refusals to volunteer past compensation information in making their employment decisions. Employers who violate this will be held liable through a civil penalty: $1,000 for the first violation, $5,000 for the second violation, and $10,000 for each subsequent violation.

This new bill supports the public policy goals of the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act, a law that went into effect in April 2018 for the purpose of promoting equal pay in the workforce. Specifically, the Equal Pay Act added on to the existing Law Against Discrimination (LAD), makes it unlawful “for an employer to pay any employee who is a member of a protected class at a rate of compensation, including benefits, which is less than the rate paid by the employer to employees who are not members of the protected class for substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort and responsibility.” N.J.S.A. 10:5-12(t).

“Last year’s landmark Diane. B Allen Act sent a strong message to New Jersey employers that there would be dire consequences for discriminatory behavior against people of color and women. But wage discrimination is a pervasive enough problem that it will require multiple solutions to eliminate it. The bill signed today could have an even greater impact as it gives each and every person the ability to escape past wage discrimination and ensures it doesn’t follow them throughout their careers,” said Dena Mottola-Jaborska, Associate Director of New Jersey Citizen Action, in a statement regarding Assembly Bill 1094.

Supporters of the bill hope that it will function to close the wage gap between men and women by prohibiting disqualification of employees based on salary history. According to the National Women’s Law Center, women in New Jersey typically make $0.80 for every dollar paid to men, with black women earning $0.57 for every dollar paid to white men. The Equal Pay Act prohibits wage inequality based on protected classes, such as race or gender, but this bill goes a step further in its focus on salary history. “I am proud to sign this bill today for our women, children and families, which will institute this policy as state law, and put an end to this discriminatory workplace practice once and for all,” said Acting Governor Sheila Oliver, who signed the bill into law while Governor Phil Murphy is out of state.

At Mashel Law LLC, we are well experienced in handling wage claims. If you are a member of a protected class and believe that you are being paid less for doing substantially similar work as other employees who are not in your protected class, call the attorneys at Mashel Law (732) 536-6161 or fill out the contact form on this page for immediate help in assessing whether you have an actionable claim against your employer. At Mashel Law, LLC, located in Marlboro, New Jersey, we are dedicated to protecting the rights of employees.