Acting Governor Sheila Oliver Signs Equal Pay and Gender Equity Legislation

Acting Governor Sheila Oliver signed A1094 into law on July 25, which makes it unlawful for any NJ employer to screen a job applicant based on their salary history or any other current or previous compensation. The law is designed to ensure that NJ employees receive salaries commensurate with their skills, qualifications, and experience, instead of being allowed to perpetuate the wage gap by allowing prospective employers to offer lower salaries to women and minorities than they otherwise would.

TRENTON – Today, Acting Governor Sheila Y. Oliver signed A1094 into law, which will prevent employers from asking about workers’ wage and salary history. In Governor Murphy’s first official act after being sworn into office in January 2018, he signed an executive order combating gender inequality and promoting equal pay for women in New Jersey by banning this discriminatory practice in state government.“Since day one, the Murphy Administration has been committed to closing the gender wage gap. Governor Murphy’s first executive order promoted equal pay across state government and prohibited prospective employees from being asked their salary histories,” said Acting Governor Sheila Oliver. “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.”A1094 makes it an unlawful employment practice in New Jersey for any employer to screen a job applicant based on their salary history, including prior wages, salary, commission, benefits or any other current or previous compensation. The law is designed to ensure that employees in the state receive salaries that are commensurate with their skills, qualifications, and experience.Studies have shown that women who hold full-time, year-round jobs in New Jersey are paid 82 cents for every dollar paid to men holding full-time, year-round jobs and that this gender wage gap is demonstrated across all industries and education level of workers. The wage gap between Latina women and White men in New Jersey is the largest in the nation.

According to research from the National Partnership for Women and Families, wage inequality leads to a combined loss of $32.5 billion in New Jersey every year.

Previously, employers were permitted to ask applicants about their salary histories perpetuating the wage gap by allowing prospective employers to offer lower salaries to women and minorities than they otherwise would. Under the new law, any employer who attempts to ask or obtain applicants salary history will be subject to a civil penalty of no more than $1,000 for a first offense, $5,000 for a second violation and $10,000 for any subsequent violations.

Primary sponsors of this bill include Assemblymembers Joann Downey, Pamela Lampitt, Gary Schaer, Eric Houghtaling, Dan Benson, Wayne DeAngelo, Paul Moriarty, and Senators Nia Gill and Loretta Weinberg.

“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 Joann 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.”

“Though equal pay was made law in New Jersey earlier this year, this legislation will take further steps towards leveling what was an unacceptably skewed playing field,” said Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt. “Salary offers to new hires based primarily on their previous salaries only perpetuate the wage gap in our workforce. Working women deserve better.”

“This is about equity and fairness,” said Assemblyman Gary Schaer. “Under the protections imposed by this bill, employers would have to make their salary decisions based on what an applicant’s worth is to the company, rather than on what he or she made in a previous position.”

“The gender wage gap puts women at a disadvantage before they even enter the workforce,” said Assemblyman Eric 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.”

“A woman working full time, year-round earns $10,800 less per year than a man, based on median annual earnings. This disparity can add up to nearly a half million dollars over a career, and have immediate, as well as lasting, effects” said Assemblyman Dan Benson. “There is no question that women should be fairly compensated. This can help us continue to bridge the gap.”

“This bill will reinforce and strengthen the groundbreaking equal pay law signed in 2018,” said Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo. “We must continue to fight to level the playing field in order to ensure fairness and equity in the workplace and to protect the rights of all workers.”

“We’ve made great strides to ensure pay equity in New Jersey,” said Assemblyman Paul Moriarty. “With the passage of this bill, we are another step closer to securing workers’ rights to equal pay for equal work for generations to come.”

“Employers should be hiring and paying potential employees for the experience and qualifications they have with respect to the demands of the specific position,” said Senator Loretta Weinberg. “Knowing how much they were paid in the past is irrelevant and often times leads to a cycle of pay inequity. By eliminating inquiries of salary history, we can help curb wage discrimination based not only on gender, but also race, age, and other characteristics.”

“Women continue to make less than men for the same work and basing the hiring salary of an employee on their previous wages only continues this wage discrimination,” said Senator Nia Gill. “This legislation will require businesses focus their assessments of candidates on their education and experience, rather than their previous compensation, creating a fairer application process for everyone.”

“The Equal Pay law signed by the Lieutenant Governor Oliver today is another major victory for women, minorities and working families seeking economic security,” said Dena Mottola-Jaborska, Associate Director of New Jersey Citizen Action. “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. It will allow experienced workers to reset their careers and ensures fairness for those just entering the workforce. New Jersey Citizen Action applauds Assemblywomen Downey and Lampitt and Senators Gil and Weinberg for their unceasing advocacy on behalf of those who face injustice and discrimination. We also applaud Lieutenant Governor Oliver, who has spent her career fighting for women and working families on issues such as earned sick days, affordable housing, consumer protection and so much more. It is particularly appropriate that she sign this Equal Pay bill into law.”

“As long as salary history is used to determine future payments, equal pay for equal work will not be possible for at least a generation,” said Marcia Marley, President at BlueWaveNJ. “Thanks to this legislation, New Jersey now joins a number of other states where this practice is illegal. I thank Governor Murphy and the legislature for amending existing legislation to include a salary history ban for private sector workers. By signing this important legislation, Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver is ensuring that pay equity will become a reality in the Garden State.”

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