Pay Equity Protection In New Jersey, Then And Now: A Call For Prompt Action By New Jersey Employers

Author:Ms Kathleen O'Malley and Emily M. Wajert
Profession:Duane Morris LLP
 
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Under the Allen Act, it is an unlawful employment practice to pay an employee who is a member of any protected class under the Law Against Discrimination less compensation and benefits than employees outside the protected class for "substantially similar" work, unless the employer can demonstrate a recognized justification.

On April 24, 2018, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed into law the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act, amending the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) to significantly expand pay equity protections for New Jersey employees and impose more stringent requirements on New Jersey employers. The Allen Act will take effect on July 1, 2018.

Over the past few years, New Jersey has taken incremental steps toward addressing pay equity concerns, including:

In 2012, the New Jersey Legislature amended the New Jersey Equal Pay Act to require notice to employees of their right to be free of gender discrimination in the workplace, including inequity or bias in pay, compensation, benefits, or other terms and conditions of employment. On August 28, 2013, New Jersey amended the LAD to include a ban on retaliation against employees who ask current or former colleagues for information about the job title, occupational category, rate of compensation (including benefits), gender, race, ethnicity, military status or national origin of any other employee or former employee. On January 6, 2014, the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) published the Gender Equity Notice and accompanying regulations, requiring employers with 50 or more employees (regardless of whether those employees work in New Jersey or outside the state) to post and distribute the notice to each employee annually and when requested. Fast forward to the passage of the Allen Act more than four years later. Although the Allen Act has been championed primarily as gender pay equity legislation, its equal pay provisions are much broader and encompass all protected classes under the LAD, making it one of the broadest pay equity laws in the nation and distinguishing it from similar laws in other jurisdictions. For example, New York's pay equity law is directed at correcting gender inequity only. The Allen Act is a giant leap forward toward eradicating pay inequity affecting all protected classes in New Jersey and commands the immediate attention of New Jersey employers.

What Does the Allen Act Require?

Under the Allen Act, it is an unlawful employment practice...

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