On April 24, 2018, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act. That new law represented a huge step forward when it comes to closing the wage gap between men and women, and the fruits of that new law are starting to be seen. Recent reports of successful outcomes in equal pay litigation cases have started to emerge. If you have been hurt by the wage gap, you should take heart from these recent reports. Armed with this new law and the important new legal options it provides, you have fewer reasons than ever to delay retaining a skilled New Jersey employment attorney if you think you’ve been harmed by discriminatory pay practices.
The Equal Pay Act allows a harmed worker to pursue a civil lawsuit. What is special and noteworthy about this kind of lawsuit is that the Equal Pay Act says that, if you prevail, you may recover treble damages. You may only have heard of “treble” in music class but, in the law, “treble” means triple. So, in other words, if you can prove that you lost out on $200,000 in income due to an equal pay violation, you may be able to recover a damages award of $600,000.
There’s an additional subtle benefit that the possibility of triple damages provides to harmed workers: it gives employers added incentive to settle equal pay lawsuits prior to trial.
That was the case recently in an equal pay lawsuit in Essex County, according to the New Jersey Globe. Both workers who sued were women who held local government positions in Verona. J.K. held the position of “township clerk” and made $73,451 in 2019, while E.V., whose title was “municipal court clerk,” made $78,800, according to the Globe.
Male co-workers were making nearly double what the plaintiffs were
Those salaries stood in stark contrast to allegedly similarly situated male employees, like a finance director who made $125,000 and a township manager who made $143,322.
According to the Globe, the case brought by the two women from Verona was possibly the first lawsuit under the Equal Pay Act. Given the large pay disparity between the women and their male counterparts, along with the fact that the Equal Pay Act opened the door to the possibility of the women recovering triple damages, the plaintiffs were able to obtain a quality settlement offer from the employer, receiving roughly $500,000.
J.K.’s attorney specifically pointed to the new law’s provisions as being key to his client getting a just outcome. “This case shows how well [the Equal Pay Act] works,” he told NorthJersey.com.
Without the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act, these two women would not have had the potential to recover triple damages. Without the potential for triple damages, the harmed workers might not have had the leverage they needed to get the settlement they achieved.
Whether you’ve been harmed by unequal pay or another form of discrimination or harassment, you need legal counsel who knows the law inside and out – including all the new enactments, changes and developments – and how to use it to your maximum benefit. For that sort of skilled and effective legal advocacy, rely on the knowledgeable discrimination and harassment attorneys at Phillips & Associates. Our team of attorneys offers our clients many years of experience in successfully representing workers who have been harmed by their employers. Contact us online or at (609) 436-9087 today to set up a free and confidential consultation.