Guidelines Further Educate Employees and Employers on Protections of Equal Pay Act
TRENTON — Governor Phil Murphy today announced guidelines from the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights to facilitate compliance and educate the public about the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act. Governor Murphy signed the Equal Pay Act into law in April 2018. The law, which took effect in July 2018, strengthened the equal pay protections of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD), and has been called the most sweeping equal pay legislation in the nation.
“In the first 100 days of my Administration, we delivered on a core promise of our vision for a stronger, fairer New Jersey by enacting the strongest pay equity law in the nation,” said Governor Murphy. “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.”
“Governor Murphy made New Jersey the pay-equity model for the nation when he signed the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act,” said Attorney General Grewal. “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.”
“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. Hispanic women earned only 76% as much as white women, and only 62% as much as white men,” said Rachel Wainer Apter, Director of the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights. “The Equal Pay Act sets the standard nationwide for how to erase these disparities. 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. We have already had several complaints brought under the Act, and will continue to use our enforcement authority to address unequal pay going forward.”
The Act generally 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 a member of that protected class for substantially similar 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. 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 of the United States, nationality, and refusing to submit to a genetic test or make available the results of a genetic test.
The Division on Civil Rights’ guidelines summarize the changes that 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 about the Act. The guidelines will help inform employers of their obligations and members of the public of their rights under the law.
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.
To read the full guidelines prepared by the Division of Civil Rights, please click here.