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The Division on Civil Rights Publishes a New Guidance Document About New Jersey Equal Pay Act

Discrimination law in New Jersey has undergone important changes in recent years, and potentially may be undergoing more. The changes reflect the clear awareness that there’s still more to do in order to stamp out the ills of discrimination and harassment in workplaces in this state. As the laws continue to evolve, the opportunities you have to obtain the compensation you need and deserve for the harm you suffered on the job may be increasing. If you’ve been hurt by workplace discrimination or harassment, make sure you reach out to an experienced New Jersey employment discrimination attorney without delay.

Earlier this year, Governor Phil Murphy announced a proposal that would make numerous beneficial changes to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. Before that, though, New Jersey’s state government had already taken some important steps to stamp out certain discrimination, including the discrimination inflicted through the wage gap.

The state passed the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act in 2018. This March, the Division on Civil Rights published a guidance document to help employees and employers understand what the Equal Pay Act does for workers. One very important thing to know about the law is that it applies to more than just the gender wage gap.

Although the gender wage gap is perhaps the most heavily covered by the news, it is not the only equal pay issue addressed by the Equal Pay Act. If your failure to receive equal pay for equal work is due to any of these things, then it is illegal under the act: “race, creed, color, national origin, nationality, ancestry, age, marital status, civil union status, domestic partnership status, affectional or sexual orientation, genetic information, pregnancy, sex, gender identity or expression, disability, atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait of any individual, or liability for service in the armed forces.”

Under this law, employers can, of course, still pay different employees different amounts, but there has to be a legitimate reason. That reason can be based on a difference in education, in experience, in training, in seniority or in the quantity or quality of work produced.

Equal Pay Act Expands Activities that are Protected from Employer Retaliation

Another huge advance created by the new law is its enhanced protections against retaliation. Previously, the Law Against Discrimination barred employers from retaliating against workers who “filed a complaint, testified or assisted in any proceeding.” A key new enhancement in the Equal Pay Act said employers could not retaliate against workers who sought out “legal advice regarding rights.” It also named the acts of sharing “relevant information with legal counsel” and sharing “information with a government entity” as acts that are protected from employer reprisals.

This, of course, is enormously important. The protection against retaliation for actually filing a complaint only goes part-way if you are not also protected for consulting an experienced attorney to discuss whether or not you should file a complaint.

Your opportunity to pursue a discrimination or harassment case successfully in New Jersey is as great or greater than it’s ever been. Additionally, your protections against employer retaliation are greater than they’ve ever been. This should give you all the reasons you need to consult legal counsel if you’ve been affected by discrimination or harassment on the job. Talk to the knowledgeable New Jersey employment discrimination attorneys at Phillips & Associates. Our attorneys have many years of representing New Jersey workers successfully as they pursue justice for the harm they suffered as a result of workplace discrimination or harassment. Contact us online or at (609) 436-9087 today to set up a free and confidential consultation and to find out how our experienced attorneys can help you.

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