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Monday, September 20, 2021

NJ Employment Wage Payment Attorney, Past Wage Information When Applying for a Job

Wage discrimination in your past employment positions should not follow you into your future employment! Unfortunately, up until January 1, 2020, it was legal for prospective employers in New Jersey to ask applicants what they earned in their prior employment. Employers would frequently then scale down their offer of wages proximate to the applicant’s prior earnings in their former employment, i.e., pay as little as they could get away with while still maintaining a work force. This perpetuated the historic wage discrimination practices.

In New Jersey, The Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act which became effective July 1, 2018, amended the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. It is the most aggressive equal pay law in the country. The Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act  protects women and minorities from pay disparity when their job title differs from non-protected classes who do substantially similar work.

However, nothing in those amendments prohibited employers from asking applicants what they earned when they worked for a prior employer. Women and minorities typically earned substantially less than their male and non-minority counterparts for doing substantially the same job. When prospective employers asked applicants about their prior earnings, it perpetuated this wage gap by allowing employers to ask and then offer lower salaries to women and minorities based on their past employment earnings.

With A1094, effective January 1, 2020, NJ amended the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination by making it an illegal employment practice for any NJ employer to ask job applicants about their salary history. This ban in screening includes prohibitions against asking applicants about prior wages, salary, commission, benefits or any other current or previous compensation. The prohibition does not apply to a job applicant seeking another position within the same company. Note as to an exception - while employers may not ask about specific dollar amounts, they are allowed to inquire about the structure of the former incentive and commissions plans, the terms and conditions of former commissions or incentive plans. Employment agencies are also prohibited from inquiring about a job applicant’s wages from former employment.

The state comes down hard on employers who violate this by screening applicants based on their past earnings. An employer who attempts to ask job applicants  or obtain an applicant’s prior wages or 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.          

Inequality in wages leads to a combined loss of $32.5 billion in New Jersey every year, according to research from the National Partnership for Women and Families. The gender wage gap is not job specific, is not tied into being education-specific, is not limited to white-collar women. This gender wage gap applies to those who hold year-round, full-time jobs jobs in New Jersey. In NJ, women holding year-round, full-time jobs are paid 82 cents for every dollar paid to men.

Hopefully, the prohibition against asking applicants about their prior wage history will be reflected in a reduced gender wage gap statistics currently demonstrated across the board in all industries.

Don’t sit on your rights!

If you believe your employer is discriminating against you because you are a member of a protected class such as age, sex, race, disability etc., you should contact this office immediately. I am successful in filing lawsuits on behalf of workers who were discriminated against at work and in recovering money to compensate them.

If you think your employer is violating the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act or is discriminating against you, you should call this office today. I am an aggressive and compassionate employment law attorney who is experienced in successfully representing persons who were subjected to discrimination, harassment and retaliation in the workplace and/or were fired. If you have experienced discrimination at work, or if you reported it and no action was taken, if you are thinking of resigning, or think you will be fired, or have been fired, it is important that you consult with an attorney who is experienced in employment discrimination.

If you are being subjected to workplace discrimination, contact Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law today for a free consultation.

Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law serves clients throughout New Jersey, including Bergen, Middlesex, Essex, Hudson, Monmouth, Ocean, Union, Camden, Passaic, and Morris Counties with locations in southern, central, western and northern NJ to meet with clients.


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