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Frequently Asked Questions About New Jersey's Equal Pay Act

At McLaughlin & Nardi, LLC, our employment lawyers represent employees in wage and hour disputes with their employers.  In early 2018, Governor Murphy and the New Jersey Legislature gave us a significant tool with which to combat discriminatory pay.  Specifically, in 2018, New Jersey adopted one of the most far reaching equal pay laws in the United States.  The Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act makes it illegal for employers to pay employees differently because of who they are.

 

What does New Jersey’s Equal Pay Act do?

Generally speaking, the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act prohibits employers from paying less for doing the same job to employees who are in a protected classification, such as gender, race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, HIV status, genetic or blood information, and basically any other characteristic which makes them who they are. 

 

How long do I have to sue because I did not receive equal pay?

The  statue of limitations for New Jersey’s Equal Pay Act increases the statute of limitations to six years.

 

What damages can I recover if I successfully sue my employer for violating New Jersey’s Equal Pay Act?

The Equal Pay Act is an amendment to New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (known as the “LAD”).  Thus, all the remedies which are available for other employment discrimination are available for violations of the Equal Pay Act.  The LAD’s remedies include compensatory damages, punitive damages and payment of the employee’s litigation costs and attorneys fees.  The Equal Pay Act further provides for payment of double the amount of the wrongfully withheld wages.

 

Are there exceptions in the Equal Pay Act?

Yes.  Employers are not liable for differences which are pursuant to a legitimate seniority system or merit system.  Also, the employer will not be liable if it can show that the difference was based on a bona fide business reason, such education, experience, training, quality of production or quantity of production; that the decision was not because of the employee being in a protected class; that each of these factors was applied reasonably and not discriminatorily; that these factors account for the entire wage differential – ie., that the difference was not because of a mix of legitimate and illegitimate reasons; that the factors do not perpetuate a discriminatory wage differential; and that the factors are job-related and required by a legitimate business necessity.  The burden is on the employer to prove it has met all the requirements for these exceptions.

 

Does New Jersey’s Equal Pay Act protect me from retaliation?                

Yes.  The LAD already protected employees from retaliation for objections to discrimination, but New Jersey’s Equal Pay Act goes even further.  The Equal Pay Act makes it illegal to retaliate against an employee for any of the following reasons.

  • Discussing, disclosing or requesting information regarding job titles, occupational categories, compensation rates and benefits with or from another employee, former employee, attorney or government agency.
  • Seeking advice from an attorney or government agency.
  • Assisting or testifying in a lawsuit or investigation of equal pay violations or discrimination.

 

Can my employer make me waive or give up any of my rights under the Equal Pay Act?

No.  An employer cannot make an employee agree not to discuss pay or benefits, or file a complaint.  Likewise, an employer cannot require an employee to agree to a shorter limitation period within which to file suit.

 

Can your employment attorneys help me enforce my rights under New Jersey’s Equal Pay Act?

Yes.  We can help.  Call us at (973) 890-0004 or email us to set up a consultation with one of our New Jersey employment lawyers.

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