New pay equity policy starts Murphy administration off on note of justice, respect for women, and support for workers

Wage gap executive order forbids state government agencies from asking about pay history

Affiliate: ACLU of New Jersey
January 16, 2018 4:30 pm

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As his first official act, Governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order that will make inroads to closing the gender pay gap by forbidding state government agencies from asking prospective employees about salary history.

In New Jersey, women make about 82 cents on the dollar compared to men. Black women receive 58 cents for every dollar a white man makes, and Latina women make 43 cents, some of the largest gaps in the nation.

“Earlier today, Lt. Gov. Oliver said that history isn’t determined in the moment, but in what we do with it – and this executive order illustrates the spirit of that principle in action,” said ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha. “People’s lives can be demonstratively better when we offer living wages and paychecks that don’t discriminate based on gender.”

“The Murphy administration has said no to an insidious mechanism that keeps wages low by defining the value of an employee based not on their contributions, but on the value placed on her work in the past. That skewed policy ends now for New Jersey’s government employees,” Sinha said. “Governor Murphy’s action sets a tone for his administration as one that values equality, economic justice, and the contributions of women. We call on the Legislature to resume their work on pay equity legislation so that all New Jersey workers are afforded these protections.”

In 2017, the Legislature passed a bill that would have prohibited all New Jersey employers from asking about salary history, which former Governor Christie vetoed. We urge the Legislature to introduce a similar bill to prohibit employers statewide from asking people about their earnings at previous jobs.

Studies have shown that salary history requirements systematically keep women’s wages lower by lowering the ceiling of what a woman can make relative to what she has made previously.

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