The Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act (“Act”) was passed by the Legislature in March of 2018, and is set to be signed by Gov. Murphy. According to NJ.com, the Senate voted 35-0 to pass the bill. The Assembly's vote was 74-2 , with the two “no” votes coming from Assemblymen Michael Patrick Carroll and Assemblyman Jay Webber, both R-Morris. The law had previously been presented to Gov. Christie for signature multiple times, who consistently vetoed the bill.
The Act, which goes into effect on July 1, 2018, amends the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”) by making it unlawful (with limited exceptions) for an employer to pay an employee who is a member of a protected class less than the rate paid to other employees who are not members of that protected class for “substantially similar work when viewed as a composite of skill, effort and responsibility.” Protected classes include, but are not limited to, gender, race, national origin, age, martial, civil union, or domestic partnership status, sexual orientation, and pregnancy. New Jersey is one of the first states to pass an equal pay law that extends protections beyond gender to all classes of employees protected under the LAD.
The Act does not prohibit different rates of pay for employees based upon a seniority system. The Act establishes a six-year statute of limitations, and permits a judge \to award a successful plaintiff employee treble damages, i.e., triple the amount of the actual/compensatory damages that the employee suffers, in certain circumstances.
Regarding his decision to sign the Act, Gov. Murphy tweeted the following on April 10th: “There is no reason a woman in New Jersey should earn just 82 cents to the dollar made by a male for the same work. That’s why, two weeks from now on April 24, I will sign into law the most sweeping equal pay legislation in America to close the gender wage gap.”