What is a salary history ban?

Can an Employer Ask Me About My Current or Past Salary?

Most job applicants are faced with the question, “How much are you currently making?” or “What was your previous salary?” When asked this question, most applicants do not know what to say. If you are in such a position, you may wonder, do you answer the question and risk losing your bargaining power or do you refuse to answer the question and risk being seen as uncooperative? Well, as a job applicant in New Jersey, you should know that you have the right to refuse to answer questions about your current or past salary during a job interview. That is because New Jersey has a salary history ban.

Can an Employer Ask Me About My Salary History?

Because of New Jersey’s salary history ban, employers in New Jersey cannot ask job applicants about their current or past salaries during job interviews. Specifically, the salary history ban prohibits employers from;

  • Screening job applicants based on their salary history.
  • Requiring that a job applicant’s previous wages, salaries, or benefits meet maximum or minimum criteria. In other words, employers cannot refuse to consider applicants because they previously earned more or less than a certain amount.

Suppose an employer screens a job applicant based on their salary history or requires that an applicant’s wages, salaries, or benefits meet maximum or minimum criteria. In that case, the employer may face civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation.

What is the Purpose of a Salary History Ban?

New Jersey is not the only state in the United States of America with a salary history ban. The following are some of the other states that have outlawed pay history questions;

  • Alabama
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • New York

So, why have states enacted laws that prevent employers from asking about salary history during job interviews? In simple words, salary history bans aim to reduce the pay gap between men and women. States realize that some practices, such as relying heavily on an applicant’s pay history when setting the salary for their new job, perpetuate inequality in pay. Considering how much money an applicant used to make in previous jobs often results in inequality in pay following women from job to job.

When Can an Employer Ask About Your Salary History?

In New Jersey, there are situations where the sharing of salary history is allowed. The following are the situations in which an employer can consider an applicant’s salary history in New Jersey;

  • If the job applicant voluntarily, without being prompted or coerced, discloses the information to the employer.
  • If the employer asks the job applicant to provide written authorization after a job offer that includes compensation and benefits, and the employee agrees to do so.

However, you should note that an employer cannot withdraw a job offer if you refuse to sign an authorization allowing them to check your salary history. In conclusion, it is crucial to note that the New Jersey salary history ban does not apply in the following situations;

  • Internal promotions or transfers
  • Previous information gained due to previous employment with the employer
  • Employers required by federal law or regulation to inquire about applicants’ salary history

Contact The Trabosh Law Firm

If a prospective employer screened you using your salary history or required that your previous salary meet maximum or minimum criteria, there are legal options you can pursue. Contact The Trabosh Law Firm to discuss your case.