On February 11, 2016, the New Jersey Senate passed Bill S992, which seeks to supplement New Jersey’s current equal pay law and amend the State’s Law Against Discrimination. As discussed in our previous blog post, similar laws went into effect in New York and California this year. On the Federal level, the EEOC announced in January 2016 its intention to submit to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) a major revision to the Employer Information Report (EEO-1), which will require that all employers with more than 100 employees submit compensation data to the EEOC beginning in 2017. See our blog post: https://www.lawandtheworkplace.com/2016/01/president-obama-expected-to-announce-new-eeo-1-pay-equity-reporting-requirements/.
If enacted, the New Jersey bill would not only restart the statute of limitations each time a discriminatory paycheck is issued to the employee—similar to the federal Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act—but it would also allow back pay for the entire violation period. The legislation would also:
- Prohibit an employer from retaliating against an employee for disclosing information about any employee’s title, occupational category, or rate of compensation to other employees, any government agency, or a lawyer from whom the employee seeks legal advice. An employer would also be prohibited from requiring an employee to sign a waiver of such rights as a condition of employment;
- Prohibit an employer from paying an employee at a lesser rate of compensation than another employee of the opposite sex for “substantially similar” work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibilities;
- Require an employer to justify questionable differences in pay rates by showing such pay decisions are based on a seniority system, a merit system, or otherwise based on a bona fide job-related reason other than sex; and
- Require contractors to provide information on gender, race, job title, occupational category and compensation, and significant changes during the course of the contract to the New Jersey Labor Commissioner and Division of Civil Rights. Contractors would also be required to disclose such information to employees and their authorized representatives upon request.
As of March 7, 2016, the bill has been reported out to the Assembly for consideration. We will continue to monitor this legislation for further developments.