Legislation signed creating Statewide Equality Notice Requirement for Employers

By Maxiel Gomez, Esq.
mgomez@pashmanstein.com

On September 21, 2012, Governor Chris Christie signed into law Assembly Bill No. 2647 requiring all New Jersey employers with 50 or more employees to post a notice advising employees of their right to be free from gender inequity or bias in pay, compensation, benefits or other terms or conditions of employment” under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which prohibit wage or compensation discrimination based on gender.

The law takes effect on November 21, 2012, however, employers have thirty (30) days from the date that the Commissioner for the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) issues the form of notice that employers are to use to comply with the law.  The posting must be in place accessible to all workers in each of the employer’s work locations in the form to be issued by the Department of Labor.

In addition to the posting requirements, employers must also provide a written notification to each worker.

Written Notification Requirements

When:

– No later than 30 days after the form of the notification is issued by NJDOL;
– At the time of hire, if the worker is hired after the initial notification is issued;
– Annually, on or before December 31st of each year;
– Upon employee’s request.

Format:

– Email;
– Printed material including pay check insert or as attachment to employee manual or policy;
– Internet, if site is for the exclusive use of all workers, can be accessed by all workers and employer provides notice to the workers of its posting.

Acknowledgement:

–  The written notification must contain acknowledgement that the worker has received, read and understands its terms.
– Acknowledgement must be signed by the worker, in writing or by electronic means, and returned to the employer within 30 days of receipt.

The employer must post and issue the notification in English, Spanish and any other language that the employer reasonably believes is the first language of a significant number of its workforce.

Employers should take this opportunity to amend their posting requirements and employee handbooks to ensure their policies are updated.

Conditionally Vetoed Bills

On September 21, 2012, Governor Christie conditionally vetoed two bills effecting employee’s rights in the workplace.  First, Bill No.  A2650 provides that a discriminatory compensation decision under the NJLAD occurs each time that compensation is paid.  This would restart the applicable statute of limitations governing discriminatory compensation claims by making each paycheck a separate and new violation of the NJLAD.   The Governor rejected the portion of the bill which sought to expand the amount of back pay an employee can recover and recommended that the bill be amended to limit an employee’s back pay recovery to a two-year period.   This bill mirrors the language in the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.

The other bill (A2648) seeks to amend Conscientious Employee Protection Act to create a new category of employees protected to include employees who disclose, or threaten to disclose, to any other employee or former employee of the employer, information regarding the job title, occupational category and rate of compensation including benefits.  Governor Christie proposed that the bill be changed to protect only those employees who request information, not those who disclose information to others and become part of the NJLAD instead of CEPA.

These bills will now return to the Legislature which can either override the veto or accept the amendments proposed by the Governor.

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