New Jersey’s newly elected Governor Phil Murphy has signed Executive Order #1 prohibiting state agencies from asking job applicants about salary history. The goal of the new Order is to combat gender inequality and promote equal pay for women in New Jersey. According to the studies cited in the Order, women in New Jersey who hold full-time, year-round jobs are paid 82 cents for every dollar paid to men holding full-time, year-round jobs. Furthermore, Asian-American women are paid 87 cents for every dollar paid to White men, while Black women are paid 58 cents for every dollar paid to White men, and Latina women are paid 43 cents for every dollar paid to White men.
The new Order, which went into effect February 1st, bans state entities from inquiring about a job applicant’s current or previous salaries, unless a conditional offer of employment has been made. A state entity is defined as “any of the principal departments in the Executive Branch of State government any agency, authority, board, bureau, commission, division, institution, office, or other instrumentality within or created by any such department, and any independent State authority, as determined by the Attorney General.” Additionally, state entities are prohibited from searching for salary history in public record databases while gathering other information about the applicant. If salary history is unintentionally discovered, prospective employers cannot use the information when making any employment decision. Job applicants, however, may volunteer information about compensation. State entities may verify salary history before providing a conditional offer of employment only if the job applicant shares the information or if it is required by federal, state or local law.
Applicants that are improperly asked about their salary history can report the violation to the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations. The Governor’s Office of Employee Relations will oversee the implementation of the Order and will investigate allegations and take appropriate measures. State entities must update their employment policies and train employees conducting interviews to prevent any violations.