On July 1, 2018, only ten days from now, the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act (Act) goes into effect, broadening New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (LAD) to promote equal pay for all employees covered under the law.
The Act, considered one of the most comprehensive and pro-employee equal pay laws in the nation, significantly expands equal pay protections under the LAD and even beyond the federal Equal Pay Act. Under the Act:
- Pay discrimination prohibitions are not limited to sex but extend to all classes protected by the LAD, i.e., race, creed, color, national origin ancestry, age, marital status, civil union status, domestic partnership status, affectional or sexual orientation, genetic information, atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait, pregnancy/breastfeeding, sex, gender identity or expression, disability, or service in the armed forces;
- Anti-retaliation (“pay transparency”) protections are extended to employees who discuss or disclose information about pay and benefits;
- Employers may be subject to more severe monetary penalties for violations; and
- Employees have a longer period of time in which to bring a pay discrimination claim.
For details of the Act, see our article, Double Take: New Jersey Governor Poised to Enact Equal Pay Act.
WHAT SHOULD EMPLOYERS DO BEFORE JULY 1?
Employers that have not already done so should begin to take proactive steps to ensure compliance with the Act and mitigate potential risk.
Review Handbooks/Policies and Revise as Necessary
Employers should review handbooks, policies, employment contracts, and any other personnel documents and remove any terms prohibiting employees from requesting, discussing or disclosing compensation, benefits, and other protected equal pay information, such as job title and occupational category.
Notify and Provide Training to Managers and Recruiters
Employers should ensure managers and recruiters, including third-party recruitment sources, are aware of the Act and company pay transparency policies.
Begin Reviewing Hiring and Compensation Policies
To be able to defend and explain pay and differences in pay, an employer needs to understand how compensation is set. Employers should begin to review hiring and pay policies and practices to ensure employees are receiving equal pay for substantially similar work.
Begin Reviewing Jobs and Job Descriptions
Employers also should begin to review job titles, job responsibilities, and job descriptions to identify which roles may be considered “substantially similar” for pay purposes under the Act.
Consider Conducting a Privileged Pay Equity Analysis
Employers should begin to consider whether to conduct a privileged, proactive pay equity analysis to identify and resolve potential issues before a claim arises.