As New Jersey employment attorneys, we were pleased to learn that late last month, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed a gender pay parity bill into law, which aims to address gender inequality in pay, benefits and other conditions of employment.
Gender discrimination in New Jersey is illegal under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The new law requires employers of more than 50 to provide employees written notice of their workplace rights.
Written notice must be provided within 30 days of the issuance of the forms by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (expected after the law’s effective date November 21, 2012); upon hiring; annually each year; and upon an employee’s first request. Employees must also sign acknowledgement of receipt within 30 days.
The number of gender discrimination complaints filed has remained fairly constant over the last 15 years, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. A total of 24,728 federal complaints were filed in 1997, compared to 28,534 complaints filed last year. Still, gender complaints are second only to race discrimination complaints in the numbers filed annually. The EEOC reports 457 gender complaints were filed with the State of New Jersey last year.
While women’s rights in the workplace have come a long way in a generation, there is still much work left to be done. With the hiring of former Google executive Marissa Mayer as the CEO of Yahoo! this summer, women now hold 20 CEO positions among Fortune 500 companies.
IBM, Pepsi-Co, Campbell Soup, Kraft Food and Xerox are other major U.S. corporations headed by women, according to Forbes Magazine.
In 1947, women accounted for just over 31 percent of the workforce. By 1979, it was just over half and has stayed there ever since. However, the pay gap has not reached parity nearly as quickly. In fact, an article in The Washington Post estimates it will take another half century to close at its current pace.
Today, white men make $2.09 an hour more than white women, on average. Black men make about $1 more an hour than their female counterparts. In New Jersey, the National Partnership for Women & Families found women make 11 to 44 percent less than men – or an average of about $12,000 a year less.
“Women and their families are losing critical income for food, gas, rent, health insurance and more due to a punishing gender-based wage gap that has plagued this country for decades,” said Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership.
As Businessweek reports, gender pay inequality is particularly troubling because it’s a silent offense. Women know when they are being subjected to harassment or abuse, and it’s often possible to determine whether discrimination is occurring in hiring and promotions.
But the confidential nature of most company’s compensation policies often forbids employees from talking about pay. As a result, pay inequality more frequently goes unchecked. Professions in which such inequality is most likely to occur include financial advisers, physicians, lawyers and police officers.
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.
A closer look at the pay gap, in charts, By Dylan Matthews, The Washington Post, Sept. 30, 2012.