Nadler seeks to make salary information private

Says employers should not ask job seekers for previous pay

August 31, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler says employers shouldn’t be asking job seekers about salaries from previous jobs. Photo courtesy of Nadler’s office
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Bosses would be prohibited from asking job applicants about their salaries at previous companies if legislation set to be introduced in the House next week is eventually passed.

U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan-Bay Ridge-Bensonhurst) said he will be one of the sponsors of a bill that seeks to prohibit employers from asking job seekers for their salary history before making a job or salary offer.

U.S. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-Washington, D.C.), who was the first woman to chair the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Connecticut) are also sponsoring the bill.

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The legislation will be introduced when Congress returns from summer recess next week, Nadler said.

The bill is an important step in the effort to eliminate the wage gap that women and monitories often encounter in the labor market, according to Nadler, who said that salary history has held workers back. Because many employers set wages based on an applicant’s previous salary, workers from historically disadvantaged groups often start out behind their white male counterparts in salary negotiations and never catch up, Nadler said.

Even though employers might not intend to discriminate on the basis of gender, race or ethnicity, asking for prior salary information before offering an applicant a job can have a discriminatory effect in the workplace, according to the bill’s proponents.

“Despite great strides forward, there are still far too many workplaces and professional situations where workers are denied equal treatment, or lack protection from unfair discrimination,” Nadler said in a statement. “The persistent gender and racial pay gap in our country shows the systemic disadvantages that remain. Ultimately, the only way to make sure women and minorities will be treated equally is to remove the early biases that exist, both in hiring practices and salary negotiations, and our bill works to eliminate those obstacles by requiring employers to offer salaries based on the value of the work.”

Employers should be hiring good workers without taking into account prior pay history or condemning someone to depressed wages, Nadler said.

Norton said women and minorities face serious discrimination in the job application process and in salary negotiations. “Many carry lower salaries for their entire careers simply because of wages at previous jobs that were set unfairly. Our bill will require employers to offer salaries to prospective employees based on merit, not gender, race or ethnicity,” she said.

Low wages are “the greatest economic challenge facing our nation today,” according to DeLauro, who said it’s an issue “that is further exacerbated by the wage gap.”

This summer, Massachusetts became the first state in the country to have a salary privacy law on the books, according to a New York Times article published on Aug. 2. Employers in that state will no longer be permitted to inquire about a job seeker’s previous salary. The law goes into effect in July of 2018.

The new law is significant, the Times reported, because it will ensure that low salaries earned by women and minorities in the beginning of their working lives don’t follow them for their entire careers.

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