Four Bills Seeking to Combat Gender Wage Gap Blaze Through the Assembly
A package of four bills (A2647, A2648, A2649 and A2650) aimed at addressing the gender wage gap were introduced in March and were promptly approved by the Assembly, and now await consideration by the Senate.
A2647 would require New Jersey employers to post and distribute a new notice, in a form to be issued by the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development, that would detail “the right to be free of gender inequity or bias in pay” pursuant to the NJLAD, Title VII, and the Equal Pay Act. If signed into law, in addition to posting the notice (physically or on an intranet), employers would have to provide a hard copy or email of the notice: (1) to all employees within 30 days from the date the notice is issued; (2) to all new hires; (3) to all employees annually by December 31 each year; and (4) to any employee upon request. Employers also would be required to collect acknowledgements from their employees within 30 days.
A2648 would explicitly prohibit retaliation against an employee who requests or discloses, to or from another employee, former employee, or their authorized representative, certain information such as job title, occupational category, and rate of compensation (including benefits) or the gender, race, ethnicity, military status or national origin of the employee or former employee, if it was reasonable for the employee to believe that the request or disclosure was made for the purpose of investigating the possibility of pay or compensation discrimination.
A2649 would require any employer (regardless of location), who contracts with the state or a state agency, to report to the Commissioner information regarding gender, race, job title, occupational category and rate of compensation (including benefits). The employer also would be required to report significant changes in this information, for example, medical leave of 12 weeks or more, hiring or termination for any reason. The information would be made available to the Division of Civil Rights, and also would be provided to anyone who is or was an employee of the employer during the contract period, or to any authorized representative of the employee.
Finally, A2650 would track the federal “Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009,” as well as the New Jersey Supreme Court’s holding in Alexander v. Seton Hall University, 204 N.J. 219 (2010), to legislate that each discriminatory compensation decision or other employment practice that violates the NJLAD occurs anew with each subsequent paycheck the employee receives that reflects the employer’s initial underlying discriminatory pay practice. The bill therefore would codify that each discriminatory paycheck “restarts” the applicable two-year statute of limitations governing discriminatory compensation claims under the NJLAD.
Note: this article was published in the April 2012 issue of the New Jersey eAuthority.