Employment discrimination can take many forms, some of which are practically invisible to anyone who does not have access to an employer’s books. Pay disparities based on factors like sex or race are still common in many workplaces. Laws like the federal Equal Pay Act (EPA) attempt to address gender-based wage gaps, and antidiscrimination laws can help take on pay disparities based on other factors. Some employers maintain policies that make addressing wage gaps difficult, such as by leaving pay information out of job listings. Advocates for fair pay need this information to identify where wage gaps are occurring. Pay transparency laws attempt to rectify this issue by requiring disclosure of wage rates. New Jersey employment law currently does not include pay transparency provisions, but a bill pending in the state legislature could change that.
Many wage gaps are not intentional, meaning they did not result from conscious decisions by current managers to pay certain employees less than other employees who work the same or similar jobs. Instead, many pay disparities reflect a long history of discrimination that goes back to a time when employers did make conscious decisions to discriminate. Women, for example, often received lower pay than men based on gender stereotypes. This created a longstanding practice of paying women less than men for the same work that persists to this day. Race-based wage gaps are also very common, resulting in pay disparities that affect women of color more than most other groups.
The EPA and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) both prohibit pay discrimination based on factors like sex. The NJLAD goes further and covers every protected category, including race, color, and national origin. It also protects employees from retaliation for asking other employees how much they make or disclosing their pay rate to others.
While the NJLAD’s protections for employees who discuss wages with others are important to the fight against wage disparities, it places all of the burden on employees to gather information one co-worker at a time. Pay transparency laws transfer some of that burden to employers, who already possess most of the necessary information.
A Jersey City law enacted in 2022 requires employers with at least five employees to disclose salary or wage ranges for all job postings. New York City has also enacted a pay transparency law. A bill in the New Jersey Legislature could apply similar requirements to employers around the state.
Lawmakers first introduced A3937 in May 2022. The Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee approved the bill in December 2023 by a 4-0 vote, with one member not voting. The bill now awaits a hearing in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
As currently drafted, A3937 would apply to all New Jersey employers with at least ten employees. It would require employers to include wage or salary ranges, benefits, and other compensation in every posting for new jobs and promotions.
Employers who do not provide the required information could be liable under this bill for civil penalties. An earlier version of the bill allowed lawsuits for damages by aggrieved employees and job applicants. The Consumer Affairs Committee appears to have removed that provision.
If you suspect that your employer has engaged in unlawful workplace practices that violate your rights in New Jersey or New York, you may be entitled to legal relief, including monetary damages. The skilled and experienced employment lawyers at the Resnick Law Group advocate for workers’ rights in a wide range of claims. to schedule a confidential consultation with a member of our team, please contact us today online, at 973-781-1204, or at 646-867-7997.