Enacted in 2018, the New Jersey Equal Pay Act provides powerful protections for employees throughout the state. Prohibiting employers from engaging in discriminatory pay practices, the Act also provides protections for employees who may voice concerns or complaints about wage-related issues in the workplace. Employees and employers alike should be aware of the protections and requirements imposed by the New Jersey Equal Pay Act. We will go through some of the Act’s main points here.
New Jersey’s Equal Pay Law
These days, there are many states that have their own equal pay laws. New Jersey goes further than most, however, as its equal pay law is not limited to protections for workers based on gender. In fact, there are a number of protected classes under the New Jersey Equal Pay Act, including:
- Sexual orientation
- National origin
As the New Jersey Equal Pay Act provides no minimum number of employees for an employer to be covered by it, almost all New Jersey employers are covered by it. Furthermore, an employer does not even need to be located within New Jersey to be covered by the act. The employer will be covered by the Act so long as it has employees that have a primary place of work in the state of New Jersey.
In addition to most employers being covered by the New Jersey Equal Pay Act, almost all employees are covered by the law and enjoy the protections it provides them. Employees covered by the law include those that are:
The Act does not, however, extend to federal government employers nor does it extend to federal employees, domestic employees, and independent contractors.
If you suspect that you are being compensated less than your co-workers who are performing substantially similar work due to your membership in a protected class, then you may have a discrimination claim on your hands pursuant to the New Jersey Equal Pay Act. In order to support such a claim, you must show that you were performing substantially similar work than other similarly situated employees who were being paid at a higher rate of pay.
Once this has been asserted, the burden shifts to the employer to show that the difference in pay rates was not due to an employee’s membership in a particular class, but was instead the result of a seniority system or merit-based system. If the employer cannot show this or it is shown that the seniority system or merit-based system was used as a mere cover up for discriminatory pay practices, then the employees may be entitled to compensation and the employer subject to penalties.
When the New Jersey Equal Pay Act amended the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, it provided for substantial penalties to be assessed against employers found in violation of the law. In a successful claim, a plaintiff can be awarded back pay for up to 6 years from the date of the last pay period found to be in violation of the law. It also permits an employee to recover additional compensation equal to 3 years of back pay as treble damages.
Employment Law Attorneys
If you believe you have been the victim of discriminatory pay practices, talk to the dedicated employment law team at Castronovo & McKinney. Contact us today.