Earlier this month, members of the New Jersey General Assembly introduced legislation to prohibit employers from seeking wage/salary histories from prospective employees. Assembly Bill 4119 (“A-4119”) follows on the heels of other states that are looking to take action on this issue, as well as similar efforts at the federal level.
The public policy rationale often cited by legislatures in passing these kinds of bills is that they may help close the gender wage gap. The substantive discussion of whether these efforts are effective is beyond the scope of this blog, so for our purposes, we are focusing solely on the effect this legislation would have on employers.
Specifically, A-4119 would make it an unlawful employment practice:
For any employer to seek the wage or salary history of a prospective employee, or require, as a condition of employment, that an employee disclose information about either the employee’s own wages, including benefits or other compensation, or about any other employee’s wages; and for any employer to require that a prospective employee’s prior wage or salary history meet any minimum or maximum criteria as a condition of being interviewed, or as a condition of continuing to be considered for an offer of employment.
As far as such things go, this is a broad prohibition — and one that would subject employers to liability under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination.
In addition to the text above, there are three other provisions to note. First, the bill also notes that it would not prohibit prospective employees from volunteering wage/salary history, as long as that disclosure was not coerced by the prospective employer. Second, employers are only permitted to confirm (or permit the would-be employee to confirm) wage/salary history after making an offer of employment. Third, A-4119 also includes an anti-retaliation provision.
As with all proposed legislation, standard disclaimers apply: this is the bill in its current form, which may or may not ultimately be enacted, and which may or may not be amended to varying degrees if it is ultimately enacted. We will continue to monitor this legislation and provide any relevant updates should it move in the New Jersey Legislature.