New laws recently enacted in January 2020 will help further ensure and mandate equal pay among both male and female employees in New Jersey. Two years ago, Governor Phil Murphy signed the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act into law, which ensures that workers receive the same compensation for substantially similar work. The Act aims to put an end to the gender pay gap, as well as promote equal pay for employees.
The latest law to boost equal pay comes with the introduction and implementation of the salary history ban, which prohibits employers from reviewing past salaries of prospective employees. This especially protects women and minorities who were paid lower salaries for the same positions as others due to the recorded compensation of past jobs that they may have held. It also redirects the focus toward qualifications, experience, and skills that job applicants may possess and levels the playing field.
Virginia Passes Equal Rights Amendment
On January 15, 2020, Virginia’s House of Delegates passed a resolution to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Originally proposed in 1920, the ERA has been annually reintroduced in Congress since 1972. In March 1979, Congress was supposed to ratify the amendment and add it to the US Constitution, but it was pushed until 1982. Unfortunately, the ERA failed to pass at that time because only 35 state legislatures voted yes to the amendment and 38 were required.
The ERA guarantees that the rights of all citizens will be equal and protected. In cases of domestic violence and sexual harassment, as well as pregnancy discrimination, the state governments could intervene to ensure that rights are being met. It also would mandate equal pay on a federal level.
Salary History Ban Becomes Law
Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver of New Jersey signed the salary history ban into law in July 2019 to be effective in January 2020. Employers may no longer request the salary, benefits, or commission histories of applicants. Although a job applicant may choose to disclose the information to their prospective employer, the employer cannot use that information against the applicant in determining whether they are suitable for a job. Any employer that violates this rule will receive a civil penalty. For initial violations, employers will receive a $1,000 fine, second violations will accrue a $5,000 fine, and each subsequent violation will cost employers $10,000.