Employment Law Prohibiting Discrimination Based on Salary History Takes Effect in New York City, Gains Ground in New Jersey

New Jersey prohibits employers from discriminating against employees and job applicants on the basis of multiple factors established by federal and state laws, and by municipal laws in some places. The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) offers a broader range of protections than its federal counterpart, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Across the Hudson River, the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) offers even greater protections, but New Jersey is catching up in many ways. A law that recently took effect in New York City prohibits employers from asking job applicants about their salary history, and from making certain employment decisions on the basis of such information. Similar laws have recently taken effect in California, Massachusetts, and Oregon. The New Jersey Legislature also passed a similar law in 2017, but the governor vetoed it. Despite this setback, the circumstances of the New Jersey discrimination bill’s passage offer hope for a future legislative session.

The purpose of employment anti-discrimination law is to protect groups of people who might be vulnerable to unfair practices by employers because of historical patterns of inequality or current negative and inaccurate stereotypes. Both state and federal laws in New Jersey prohibit discrimination in employment on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, or sex. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 10:5-12(a), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). The NJLAD includes additional protected categories like age and disability that may be found in other federal statutes. See, e.g. 29 U.S.C. § 623, 42 U.S.C. § 12112. In other areas, such as marital or civil union status, sexual orientation, and gender identity, the NJLAD goes beyond any protection expressly provided under federal law.

Laws at the state and federal levels generally require employers to pay employees the same wage for performing the same job, although much litigation has occurred over the question of determining the similarity of people’s jobs. The new law in New York City addresses discrimination based on a person’s salary history. An employer that asks an applicant about salary history may decide to hire a person solely because they have the lowest prior salary of all of the applicants, and then they might try to pay that person less than their coworkers. The recent amendment to the NYCHRL, which took effect on October 31, 2017, makes it an unlawful employment practice to inquire about salary history during the job application process, or to base a new hire’s salary and other terms of employment on their past wages. See N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-107(25).

The New Jersey Legislature passed a consolidated bill, filed as AB 3480 and 4119, in May and June 2017. The bill would have amended the NJLAD to add “screen[ing] a job applicant based on the applicant’s wage or salary history” to the statute’s list of unlawful employment practices. Much like the amended NYCHRL, the bill would have also prohibited inquiries about salary history. The governor vetoed the bill in July. In a statement accompanying the veto, the governor stated that he shared the “concern with wage discrimination” expressed in the bill, but he felt that the bill went too far with its prohibitions. The bill passed by comfortable margins in both the Assembly and the Senate, and it might have more luck with the new incoming governor during the next legislative session.

If you need to speak to an overtime lawyer about a dispute in New Jersey or New York, contact the Resnick Law Group today online, at 973-781-1204, or at (646) 867-7997.

More Blog Posts:

New Jersey Lawsuits Allege Failure to Pay Overtime Wages, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, December 8, 2017

New York City Bans Employers from Asking About Salary History, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, July 14, 2017

New Jersey Law Against Discrimination Now Protects Workers from “Salary Secrecy” by Prohibiting Retaliation for Inquiring About Wage Discrimination, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, March 31, 2014


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