Protected Classes Are Now In Good Hands With The NJ Equal Pay Law

On April 24, 2018, Governor Phil Murphy signed the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act into law.  Effective July 1, 2018, it is illegal for an employer to pay an employee who is a member of a protected class less than what the employer pays employees who are not members of the protected class “for substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort and responsibility.”

A “protected class” includes, but is not limited to, gender, race, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity/ancestry, pregnancy, and national origin.  However, an employer is permitted to pay a different rate of compensation “if the employer demonstrates that the differential is made pursuant to a seniority system, a merit system, or” if the employer satisfies several factors.  These factors include “training, education or experience, or the quantity or quality of production,” however these factors must be “applied reasonably, . . . account for the entire wage differential, and . . . are job-related with respect to the positon in question and based on a a legitimate business necessity.”

Any employer who is paying an employee in violation of this law may not reduce the compensation of the employee(s) who are not in the protected class in order to comply.

In addition to other relief available under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, an aggrieved individual may recover back pay for up to six years.  Moreover, if an employee prevails in a jury trial on such a claim the court “shall award three times any monetary damages to” the prevailing individual.

The Act also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who request from, discuss with, or disclose to another employee or former employee of the employer, a lawyer from whom legal advice is sought, or any governmental agency information regarding compensation.

If you believe that your employer has discriminated against you in compensation, please contact the Law Offices of Damian Christian Shammas, LLC for a consultation.