You know that awkward moment: You’re filling out an application for employment and there’s a space left blank for your salary history. Or you’ve just crushed a job interview and your prospective employer asks, “How much are you making now?”
Say too much and you may never get past the initial screening. Say too little and you could be boxed into a lower wage.
New Jersey Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver just signed a bill making it illegal to ask job applicants for their salary history, information that experts say perpetuates wage discrimination against women and minorities. Oliver is serving as acting governor while Phil Murphy is vacationing overseas.
The new law, which takes effect in six months, prohibits employers from requesting applicants’ salary, commission or benefits history during the hiring process. If you want to volunteer the information, you can, but it will be illegal for the employer to hold it against you if you don’t.
Any employer that violates the new rules and seeks out an applicants’ salary history could be fined up to $1,000 for a first offense, $5,000 for the second and $10,000 thereafter.
The governor and his family will spend most of their time out of state at their Italian villa.
New Jersey state government had already banned the practice for new hires under an executive order Murphy signed last year. More than a dozen states, plus more cities and counties, already have adopted some variation of this ban.
“Since day one, the Murphy administration has been committed to closing the gender wage gap," Oliver said in a statement Thursday. “I am proud to sign this bill today for our women, children and families ... and put an end to this discriminatory workplace practice once and for all.”
Women in New Jersey are paid 82 cents for every dollar paid to men, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families, which found wage gap exists regardless of industry, occupation or education.
“Pretty much across the board an employer will offer you less if they think they can,” said Dena Mottola-Jaborska, associate director of New Jersey Citizen Action, whereas the new law will force them to “think long and hard about what the position and the work are worth paying.”
“It gives each and every person the ability to escape past wage discrimination and ensures discriminatory decisions of the past can no longer follow them throughout their careers. It will allow experienced workers to reset their careers and ensures fairness for those just entering the workforce,” she said.