Piro Zinna Cifelli Paris & Genitempo, LLC Attorneys at law
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New Jersey makes equal pay for equal work a law

It's hard to believe that the majority of women out there still make 20 percent less than their male counterparts doing the exact same jobs. The gap in pay occurs regardless of education level or industry. Unfortunately, the wage gap that women suffer is alive and well -- except in New Jersey, thanks to some new legislation.

While federal laws mandating equal pay for men and women have been in existence since the 1960s, they're unevenly enforced and not particularly strong -- otherwise, the wage gap wouldn't still be in existence. New Jersey is adding legislation at the state level to give women more power to fight back.

New Jersey's new Equal Pay Act is the strongest in the nation, partially because it gives victims of disparate pay the ability to seek six years worth of payback. They're also entitled to receive triple their actual monetary damages. These are sweeping changes with a real bite. The other laws limited recovery to actual wages lost and only for a two-year period. For many women, the difficulty of pursuing a claim in court simply wasn't worth it in the past.

However, the new law also has another important feature. It requires employers to give equal pay to employees doing work that's "substantially similar." That's a huge difference. Employers have often skirted around existing laws by giving female employees different job titles or assigning them to different departments than their male counterparts. Some employers even tack on essentially nominal functions to a male employee's job description, just to justify the bump in his pay. Now, those sort of discriminatory job tactics won't fly.

Those bringing a wage discrimination lawsuit against an employer will have the right to compare their job to the jobs others are doing for higher pay based on qualities like the number of people they supervise, their operational power, the revenue they control and other important factors.

This is an important time for female employees in New Jersey. With a little luck, the rest of the nation may soon follow.

Source: HuffPost, "New Jersey’s Equal Pay Law Is The New Gold Standard," Bryce Covert, April 10, 2018

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