A week ago, President Barack Obama announced further efforts by the White House and EEOC to combat gender pay equality issues. The momentum from last week’s announcement carried its way up the coast from the District of Columbia to the state legislature of New Jersey. Yesterday, New Jersey’s Senate Labor Committee approved Senate Bill 992 sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Senate President Steve Sweeney aimed at providing additional equal pay protections. The proposed legislation would build on New Jersey’s current equal pay law already in place.
The federal government’s announcement a week ago commemorated the seven year anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the first bill President Obama signed into law after taking office in 2009. New Jersey Senate Bill 992 – as proposed – would mimic the language of the Ledbetter Act, restarting the statute of limitations for pay discrimination claims each time a paycheck is issued in furtherance of discrimination. The proposed bill contains other features, including (1) prohibiting employer retaliation against employees for disclosing compensation; (2) requiring employers to articulate a bona fide job-related reason for difference in pay for employees of a different gender performing substantially similar work; and (3) reporting requirements for contractors relating to certain changes during the course of the contract.
The proposed New Jersey legislation comes after similar legislation was passed in the last year by New York and California. Employers should keep an eye out as the New Jersey’s SB 992 makes its way through the state legislature this year, as well as for similar legislation likely coming in other states. The Federal proposal was published in the Federal Register on February 1, 2016 and written comments may be submitted on or before April 1, 2016.