- New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) on April 24 signed into law a bill that makes New Jersey’s pay equity laws among the strongest in the nation.
- The Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act amends the state’s Law Against Discrimination and prohibits employers from offering different pay rates for “substantially similar work” to employees in a number of protected classes. Employers can pay employees different rates if that difference is based on a seniority or merit-based system or other factors spelled out in the bill.
- The state law allows employees to sue for up to six years of back pay, provides for triple damages and takes effect July 1.
Garden State employers can prepare for the law’s impact by performing a pay audit. Make sure that if employees are performing substantially similar work and aren't paid the same wages and benefits, there is a good reason, FisherBroyles LLP attorney, Eric B. Meyer, suggested in a blog post.
Employers in the state are used to employee-friendly employment laws, and even more may be on the horizon. The legislature has passed a paid sick leave bill that now awaits the governor's signature, and a proposed salary history ban has gained some traction.
New Jersey companies are hardly alone, however. Employers nationwide have been decrying the patchwork of state and local laws that only seems to have grown since the 2016 election, perhaps a backlash to the federal government's plans to roll back regulations, some say. Pay equity laws have been particularly popular these last few months, with Massachusetts leading the way. Its new requirements take effect this summer. Experts say these laws and other similar efforts show no signs of stopping any time soon.