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Forget Referring to it as the “Garden State”: New Jersey Just Became the “Equal Pay” State

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On April 24, 2018, New Jersey’s Governor, Phil Murphy, signed the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act (the “Act”) into law. Recognized as the strongest equal pay law in the United States, the Act amends New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination to make it unlawful for employers to compensate employees who are members of a protected class less than they would compensate other employees not of the protected class for substantially similar work.

The Act is stricter than the federal Equal Pay Act of 1963 (“EPA”). Under the EPA, an employer may avoid liability for unequal pay practices if it can demonstrate that men and women are paid differently for substantially similar work pursuant to: (1) a seniority system; (2) a merit system; (3) a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or (4) a differential based on any other factor other than sex. The Act, on the other hand, narrows the factors upon which the differential may be based – instead of “any other factor other than sex,” the differential must be based on limited factors such as “training, education or experience.”

In addition, the Act increases the statute of limitations on a claim to six years, prohibits reprisals against an employee for having “sought legal advice regarding rights under [the Act], shared relevant information with legal counsel [and with] a governmental entity,” and allows a judge to award an aggrieved employee triple any monetary damages.

The Act will take effect on July 1, 2018 and can be found here.