By signing into law new posting requirements aimed at combating pay and gender discrimination, Gov. Chris Christie advanced the fight for equal pay in the workforce.
Under the new law, companies that employ more than 50 people must post gender equality information in the workplace. This information must also be provided to employees at the time of hire, annually thereafter, and upon an employee’s request.
The law is scheduled to take effect Nov. 21 and employers will have 30 days to comply once the New Jersey Department of Labor issues notice.
However, our NJ employment lawyers understand there is much work left to be done. Employees, particularly women, must remain vigilant in making sure they are fairly compensated, particularly in relation to men holding similar positions within the company.
Christie vetoed a measure that would have increased the reporting requirements for public contractors in an effort to better determine and enforce compliance. Those doing business within New Jersey would have been required to report gender, job title, occupational category, race and total compensation to the New Jersey Department of Labor.
“When Gov. Chris Christie had a chance to sign legislation I authored to prevent gender wage discrimination in public contracts, he vetoed the bill, calling it ‘senseless bureaucracy,'” wrote Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington), in the Star-Ledger. Lampitt is also chairwoman of the Assembly’s Women and Children Committee.
Christie said it would have been burdensome and would have ultimately driven up the cost of public contracts paid for by tax dollars.
However, fact remain that women continue to fight for the equal pay owed them for equal work; this remains particularly true for jobs traditionally held by men. Lampitt notes a nationwide annual gender wage gap of $15.8 billion. In New Jersey, women earn just 79 cents for every dollar a man earns in the workforce.
Christie returned two New Jersey employment discrimination bills to the legislature for significant amendments.
The first would have eliminated the statute of limitations for bringing compensation discrimination claims. The Christie Administration contends that asserting into the bill limitations on the amount of backpay that can be recover would bring it into better agreement with the holdings of the New Jersey Supreme Court and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. The governor proposed a two-year limit.
The next measure would have prohibited retaliation against employees requesting pay information. The governor recommended the provisions be included in the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination rather than being made part of NJ’s whistleblower law.
Establishing whistleblower protections is a key component that must be part of any real solution. The secrecy around pay in the workforce is one one the primary reasons why this form of silent discrimination is allowed to continue. Until employees who have reason to believe they are being paid unfairly are given access to compensation information, such discrepancies in pay will remain commonplace.
If you need to speak to an employment law attorney in New Jersey or New York, contact the Resnick Law Group at 973-781-1204 or (646) 867-7997.