The pay disparity between men and women in New Jersey and across the country has been evident for decades. New Jersey female workers received only 69 percent of the salary men were paid, according to the U.S. Census Bureau 2014 American Community Survey. Many states are beginning to pass laws aimed at closing the gap; such a bill recently passed the New Jersey Senate 35-0 and Assembly 74 to 2.
New Jersey lawmakers passed the pay equity bill, Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act, which bans employers from paying women less than men for substantially similar work. It also allows victims of discrimination to receive up to six years’ worth of back pay.
New Jersey Seeks to Close Wage Gap
To combat the wage gap issue, New Jersey has passed a bill that would prohibit employers from paying women less than men for substantially similar work unless the discrepancy is based on a recognized justification. The Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act amends the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) to account for discrimination in the rate or method of payment of wages to an employee based on his or her sex.
Governor Murphy, who will sign the bill into law on April 24th, says there is no reason a woman in New Jersey should earn less than a man for the same work. He also showed his support for the issue by signing an executive order to prohibit state agencies from asking applicants about salary history – his first official action as governor. He believes that women’s salaries should be based on their skills and experience, not their gender or how much they earned in the past.
New Law Provides Additional Protections for New Jersey Employees
Under the new laws, employers are also prohibited from requiring employees to waive their right to not disclose pay history information and retaliating against employees who discuss pay equity with legal counsel, a government entity or other employees. The statute of limitations is six years, however back pay will be available for the entire period of continuing violations that occurred during the six-year limitation.
Each occasion of discriminatory practices concerning wages, benefits or other compensation that affects an individual constitutes a separate violation. Employees or applicants will also be entitled to treble damages (triple the amount of compensatory damages) in situations where the employer violated the equal pay or non-retaliation provisions of the bill.
Recommendations for Employers
Employers should take steps to ensure compliance with the new law. They must either have legitimate explanations for compensation differentials or close the wage gap between their male and female employees. They should also review their policies, job descriptions and training manuals to ensure that pay discrimination is prohibited. Finally, employers should train existing and new employees regarding the new law and its requirements.
Cherry Hill Employment Discrimination Lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. Advocate for Pay Equity in the Workplace
If you believe you were given a lesser rate of compensation, denied a raise, not given benefits or a promotion or were fired because of your gender, contact a Cherry Hill employment discrimination lawyer at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C.. Our experienced employment attorneys will fight tirelessly for your rights to justice and compensation. We represent clients throughout New Jersey, including those in Middletown, Cherry Hill, Marlton and Red Bank.