In New Jersey, the workplace now has the toughest law against workplace discrimination. On March 26, 2018, the New Jersey Legislature passed the new pay equity law that will shield women and minorities from unequal pay. This law bans unequal pay for “substantially similar work” and allows victims of discrimination to sue for up to six years of back pay. As stated by, Lilly Ledbetter, who encountered employment discrimination, had a case that led to Congress passing the federal equal pay legislation in 2009, “This bill that’s being signed and passed today will mean so much more than a signature on a piece of paper,” she said. “It means that women and minorities can earn the rightful money that they’re really earning and entitled to under the law.” The former New Jersey State Senator, Diane Allen was rigorously fighting for similar bills to go into place but former Governor Christie vetoed them all. Allen also faced discrimination as a television reporter. The name of the new bill is the New Jersey’s Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act and becomes effective July 1.
Why this law is significant?
Many employers take advantage of women for years but now this marks the transformation for workplace discrimination. Women in New Jersey earn roughly 81 cents for every dollar a man makes, according to the National Women’s Law Center. Women working full-time in the state earn roughly $50,000, or $11,737 less than the median annual salary for a man, according to the governor’s office. New Jersey’s new pay equity law does not just protect women but for everyone in a protected class. The law is not limited to equal pay for women. This legislation protects race, sexual orientation, religion, domestic partnership, gender identity, atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait, genetic information, mental or physical disability, and AIDS and HIV status. The employer must not only demonstrate a reason for differential, but also a reason that does not have unequal impact on a protected class. The state’s law says, that an employer cannot pay an employee of a protected class less than an employee who is not a member of that class and does “substantially similar work.” Substantially similar work means to work that is mostly similar in skill, effort, responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions. A seniority system, merit system or a bona fide factor could justify the law. Also, employers have a great burden of proof to explain differences in wages.
The Statue of Limitations
The law extended the statute of limitations for pay equity violations up to six years. Back pay is available for the entire period of time if the violation is continuous. Back pay is payment for work done in the past that was withheld at the time, or for work that could have been done had the worker not been prevented from doing so.
If the employer violated unequal pay and this is proven, monetary damages will be triple the amount lost by the worker.