The New Jersey Department of Labor has issued a new mandatory gender equity notification form. Employers with at least 50 employees, whether working inside or outside of New Jersey, must conspicuously post the notice, as well as distribute it to employees (P.L. 2012, c.57). The notification serves to put employees on notice of their rights to be free from gender inequity or bias in pay, compensation, benefits, or other employment terms and conditions under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Governor Chris Christie signed the anti-discrimination notice requirements in September 2012, after the bill received final legislative approval in June. The proposed form of notice was originally published and opened for public comment on January 7, 2013.
What Employers Must Do
Employer obligations will begin on January 6, 2014, the date the notice will be published in the New Jersey register. Covered employers must do the following:
- On January 6, 2014, conspicuously post the gender equity notice in a place or places accessible to all employees in each of the employer’s workplaces;
- By February 5, 2014, provide employees who were hired on or before January 6, 2014, with a written copy of the notice;
- For employees hired after January 6, 2014, provide the new employee a written copy of the notice at the time of hire;
- Beginning January 6, 2014, and annually thereafter, provide each employee a written copy of the notice. The annual distribution must be done on or before December 31st of each year;
- Provide each employee a written copy of the notice upon the employee’s first request;
- Every time an employer provides a written copy of the notice to an employee, provide an acknowledgment form stating the employee has received the notification and has read and understands its terms. The acknowledgment must be signed by the employee, in writing or by means of electronic verification, and returned to the employer within 30 days of its receipt.
The regulations allow employers alternatives methods for providing the notification to employees. Employers may do so by e-mail delivery or by distributing printed material, including as a paycheck insert, an attachment to a handbook, or a flyer distributed at an employee meeting. Employers also may make the written copy of the notification available to employees through an Internet or intranet website, provided the website is for the exclusive use of all of the employer’s workers, can be accessed by all workers, and the employer provides notice to workers of the posting.
Under the notification rules, employers must post and provide the notification in English and Spanish, when the employer reasonably believes Spanish is the first language of a significant number of its workforce. The state labor commissioner has not yet made available the Spanish version of the notification.
New Jersey employers already must post a number of different notices, including a notice regarding the Law Against Discrimination stating it is illegal to discriminate against a protected class (such as based on gender) with respect to any condition of employment. They also must post federal equal employment opportunity notices addressing workers’ rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The new posting requirement, however, focuses specifically on gender discrimination, and the annual distribution requirement creates a new responsibility for New Jersey employers.
New Jersey has continued its recent trend of requiring employers to not only post various notices but to distribute them to all employees. The new notice, however, takes employer obligations a step further by requiring annual distribution to employees, which is similar to the annual distribution requirement under the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), as well as requiring employers to obtain a signed acknowledgment form from each employee.