Many people like to think that gender inequality no longer exists in the United States; however, many working women understand that, despite all of the progress we have made as a country, those types of injustices happen every day. Indeed, pay inequality, which means that people are paid differently based on their sex (gender), is still a wide-reaching problem that is a particularly pronounced in New Jersey. To address this blatant and longstanding problem, the New Jersey Senate passed a law to eradicate such unlawful pay practices. Unfortunately, for New Jersey working women, Governor Christie conditionally vetoed that law on May 2, 2016.
While unequal pay based on gender is already against the law in New Jersey because it violates the Law Against Discrimination (LAD), the proposed bill S992 would have supplemented and strengthened the current law by addressing pay inequality in a variety of ways. For example, the law would have made it illegal to retaliate against employees who disclose information about their title, occupational category or compensation to a lawyer, governmental body or fellow employee. The proposed bill also made it illegal to require employees to waive their right to make such disclosures as a condition of being hired or continued employment. If passed, the law would have also provided for triple damages for successful unequal pay claims. Perhaps most importantly, the proposed bill would have allowed employees who successfully pursued an unequal pay claim to potentially collect back wages beyond the current 2 year statute of limitations. It also required contractors working for the State of New Jersey to disclose demographic, title and compensation information of its employees to the New Jersey Labor Commissioner and Division of Civil Rights as well as to other employees upon request.
Gender pay inequity is a particularly troubling issue in New Jersey where women need to work for 50 years to earn what comparable men earn in 40 years according to a recent analysis by the National Women’s Law Center. Indeed, that analysis found that women earn $11,927 less per year than their male counterparts. But not all is lost because despite the Governor’s conditional veto, New Jersey’s working women can still pursue unequal pay claims under the Law Against Discrimination, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex/gender.
If you or someone you knows is the victim of unequal pay, experienced discrimination lawyers like Lenzo & Reis, LLC can help. But don’t wait because the longer you wait to call to find out if you have a claim, the more you may lose in equal pay.