Governor Christie signs bill that requires employers to post and distribute notice of employees' rights to gender-equal pay but vetoes other gender parity bills.
On September 21, Governor Chris Christie considered several bills dealing with gender equality. He signed Assembly Bill No. 2647 (A-2647) into law, requiring New Jersey employers to post a notice informing employees of their "right to be free from gender inequity or bias in pay, compensation, benefits or other terms or conditions of employment" under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) and other state and federal antidiscrimination statutes. Governor Christie, however, conditionally vetoed two gender parity bills before him, noting his recommendations for each. Given this new posting and notification requirement, and the possibility for additional expansions to gender parity protections, employers should take this opportunity to ensure that their employment and posting policies are up to date.
Notice and Distribution Obligations
A-2647, which supplements the New Jersey Equal Pay Act, will take effect on November 21, 2012, and applies to all New Jersey employers with 50 or more employees. However, employers will have 30 days to comply with the law from the date that the New Jersey Department of Labor (NJDOL) develops and issues the notice that employers must distribute. NJDOL's process will likely take several months.
A-2647 imposes several obligations on employers. An employer must do the following:
- Post the notice in a conspicuous place accessible to all employees. The notice must be in English, Spanish, and any other language spoken by 10% of an employer's workforce, provided that the NJDOL has issued a form notice in that language.
- Provide a copy of the notice to each current employee within the initial 30-day period.
- Provide a copy of the notice to new employees at the time of hire.
- Provide a copy of the notice to any employee upon request.
- Redistribute the notice to all employees on an annual basis.
- Collect an annual acknowledgment from each employee that the employee has read and understood the notice.
Notably, an employer may distribute the notice on paper or electronically through email or a website "if the site is for the exclusive use of all workers, can be accessed by all workers, and the employer provides notice to the workers of its posting." The NJDOL has confirmed in answer to an informal inquiry that an employer may provide electronic notice to some employees and give paper copies to other employees who do not have access to email or the employer's website. Similarly, the acknowledgment can either be signed by each employee or electronically verified.
In addition to the new requirements under A-2647, New Jersey already imposes several obligations on employers to post and distribute notices of several laws, including the following:
- Conscientious Employee Protection Act (annual distribution)
- Family Leave Insurance Program (at hire, upon request, and when leave is requested)
- Recordkeeping Requirements (at hire)
As the end of the year approaches, New Jersey employers should prepare to distribute these required notices and ensure that postings are up to date.
Other Vetoed Bills
Governor Christie also conditionally vetoed two other "gender parity" bills, which, if the Legislature adopts the governor's revisions, could impact New Jersey employers. The first bill (A-2648/S-1935) would amend the NJLAD to protect from retaliation workers who discuss their "job title, occupational category, and rate of compensation, including benefits." The second bill (A-2650/S-1933) would codify the New Jersey Supreme Court's decision in Alexander v. Seton Hall University, 204 N.J. 219 (2010), and would cap at two years the amount of back pay that an employee can recover in a lawsuit alleging that the employee was paid less because of gender. Having been conditionally vetoed, these bills must be reenacted by the Legislature with the governor's recommended amendments and presented to him again for his signature.