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Guidance Published for New Jersey’s Pay Equity Law

New Jersey published guidelines for its pay equity laws passed in 2018.

The guidance, from the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (DCR), is intended to facilitate compliance and educate the public about the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act that Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law.

The law, strengthened the equal pay protections of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD), went into effect in July 2018.

“The guidelines announced today make clear our intentions to eliminate discriminatory pay practices in the Garden State that have historically prevented women and other marginalized groups from earning their fair share,” said Gov. Murphy. 

Protecting Workers

The act prohibits an employer from paying an employee who is a member of a protected class less than what it pays an employee who is not for the same work. These employee protections are stronger than the federal Equal Pay Act, which covers only gender-based pay disparities and only requires equal pay for “equal” work, not “substantially similar” work. 

“The guidance being issued today will help make the law’s promise of equal pay a reality by ensuring that employees know their rights and that employers know their obligations.”  said Attorney General Gurbir Grewal. 

Who’s Protected

New Jersey’s law provides protections based on race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, civil union status, domestic partnership status, affectional or sexual orientation, genetic information, pregnancy or breastfeeding, sex, gender identity or expression, disability or atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait, liability for service in the Armed Forces, nationality, and refusing to submit to a genetic test or make available the results of a genetic test.

The DCR’s guidelines summarize the changes the Equal Pay Act made to the LAD and explain how those changes affect employers and employees. In addition to providing an overview of the Equal Pay Act, the guidelines contain answers to frequently asked questions and will help inform employers of their obligations and members of the public of their rights under the law.

According to DCR’s director Rachel Wainer Apter, in 2018, women in New Jersey earned only 81.3% as much as their male counterparts. Black women nationwide earned only 80% as much as white women, and only 65% as much as white men. And Hispanic women earned only 76% as much as white women, and only 62% as much as white men.  

“We have already had several complaints brought under the act, and will continue to use our enforcement authority to address unequal pay going forward,” said Wainer Apter. 

Private and Public 

The guidelines include an Appendix for Public Sector Employers, which the Civil Service Commission has prepared to explain how public sector employers can undertake self-evaluations to identify and address possible pay disparities under the Equal Pay Act. 

“The Equal Pay Act sets the standard nationwide for how to erase these disparities,” said Wainer Apter. “This guidance explains the Equal Pay Act in terms that are easy for employers and employees to understand, and answers questions that DCR has received about how it interprets the Act.” 

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