N.J. debates whether asking about previous salary is discriminatory

 (Greg Brave / BigStock)

(Greg Brave / BigStock)

The New Jersey Assembly has passed a bill intended to strengthen protections against employment discrimination.

Assemblywoman Joann Downey said it would prohibit employers from asking job applicants about their employment history.

“There’s only one reason for that and that’s to be able to pay a person less if they can. If a job is worth something, it’s worth something to each and every person who comes in, especially a woman.”

Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt says the measure is another opportunity to take down a barrier toward equal pay.

“Too often their salary information from their previous employment and maybe years have passed, they’ve stayed home to take care of their children, and at the current status in terms of being able to be reemployed, it really does inhibit them from being paid exactly what they’re worth.”

Assemblyman Jay Webber was among Republicans voting against it, saying it’s a misguided anti-employer bill.

“Why are we afraid of just sharing information and letting in a free society an employer ask a prospective employee what are you making, what do you need to make, how can I get you here?”

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.