The New Jersey Legislature passed legislation this week that mandates equal pay to all New Jersey employees and penalizes New Jersey employers who discriminate against women and other protected classes in their paychecks. The bill has now been sent to Governor Murphy, who has made clear that he will imminently sign the bill into law.
The bill, entitled the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act, is named after state senator Diane B. Allen who left her broadcasting job in 1994 after filing gender and age discrimination complaints with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. The New Jersey Equal Pay Act will modify the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination by strengthening the protections already provided by the current anti-discrimination law against employment discrimination by making it unlawful to discriminate against employees in their compensation.
Specifically, the New Jersey Equal Pay Act makes it an unlawful for an employer to pay a rate of compensation and benefits to employees of a protected class which is less than the rate paid to employees not in the same class for substantially the same work. Protected classes include such traits as sex, race, ethnicity, military status or national origin of the employee. Once it is signed into law, the New Jersey Equal Pay Act will prohibit an employer from reducing the rate of compensation of any employee to comply with the new law. This means that an employer who has been and continues to be in violation of the law cannot then decrease the compensation of any employee to the compensation of another employee who is being discriminated against in their compensation.