On March 26, 2018, the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act was passed by the New Jersey Legislature. The Act was subsequently signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy on April 24, 2018, and took effect on July 1, 2018. This important piece of legislation mandated equal pay for employees protected under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD). For more on the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act and what it protects for New Jersey employees across the state, read on.
What is the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act?
Under the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act, employers are required to compensate employees protected from discrimination under the NJLAD. This means that employers must compensate such protected employees at the same rate of compensation as those non-protected employees who engage in “substantially similar work.” The only allowable deviation from this is if the pay discrepancy is justified by a legitimate business need that falls in line with provisions of the Act.
Who is considered a protected employee pursuant to the NJLAD? An employee will be considered a member of a protected class based on a characteristic listed in the NJLAD that is prevented from serving as the basis of any employment decision for that particular employment. Protected characteristics include:
- Marital Status
- National Origin
- Sexual Orientation
Those members of a protected class cannot be compensated at a lower rate than an employee who is not a member of a protected class for substantially similar work. For purposes of this Act, compensation also includes employment benefits. To determine whether employees engage in substantially similar work, the skill and effort, as well as the employment responsibilities required by the work will all be considered.
The Act does even more than requiring equal pay for substantially similar work. The Act also protects employees from retaliatory actions should they seek legal advice for rights under the NJLAD. Furthermore, the act prohibits retaliation should an employee share information regarding NJLAD issues with legal counsel or a government entity or request, discuss, or disclose to a current or former employee of the same employer, to legal counsel when seeking legal advice, or a government entity, information about job title, compensation, or other aspects regarding a protected status.
An employer is also prevented from making a waiver of protections granted by the NJLAD a condition of employment or making consent to a restricted time frame within which the employee can bring a timely NJLAD claim a condition of employment. Under the Act, an unlawful employment practice is said to occur every time an employee feels the effects of a discriminatory compensation practice. This means that a violation of protections is said to occur every time wages are paid to the employee.
The NJLAD has specific remedies for employees impacted by unlawful employment practices. In addition to these remedies, an employee who experiences pay discrimination has the right to seek back pay for the entire period of a continuous violation. The maximum time frame for recovering back pay is six years as long as the violations fall within the allowable statute of limitations. In some cases, an employee who has experienced pay discrimination may be entitled to treble damages as provided for under the Act.
Employment Law Attorneys
Have you been the victim of discriminatory payment practices in New Jersey? Get in touch with the trusted employment law attorneys at Castronovo & McKinney. Contact us today.