Pro Bono Partnership Pundit: NJ’s New Equal Pay and Paid Sick Leave Laws Provide Expanded Equitable Protections for Employees

Posted on by Christine Michelle Duffy, Pro Bono Partnership

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New Jersey has enacted two new laws that will dramatically impact the workplace. Both laws aim to provide a more equitable workplace for minorities, women, and other lower-paid employees.

Each of the laws presents significant compliance challenges for employers, so I urge you to read the two articles that are linked to below.

  • Note: Both laws apply to all nonprofits and neither law contains a “small employer” exception.

Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act

The Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act provides that it is an unlawful employment practice to discriminate in compensation or other financial terms and conditions of employment between persons doing substantially similar work based on an employee’s affectional or sexual orientation; age; ancestry, national origin, or nationality; atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait, disability, or genetic information; gender identity or expression, pregnancy, or sex; civil union, domestic partnership, or marital status; color or race; creed or religion; or liability for service in the U.S. military.

In addition, the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act:

  • Includes a six-year statute of limitations for claims alleging such discrimination, which is three times as long as the usual limitations period under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.
  • Requires that an employee recover triple damages if a jury determines that an employer failed to pay equal compensation in compliance with the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act.

The breadth of the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act and the stiff penalties employers face for violating the law should help to narrow the wage gap that many minorities and women in New Jersey have faced for years. As Governor Murphy noted when the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act was enacted into law, “the only factors to determine a worker’s wages should be intelligence, experience and capacity to do the job. Pay equity will help us in building a stronger, fairer New Jersey.”

The Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act was added to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, the oldest and one of the broadest multi-purpose antidiscrimination laws in the United States. While some other states have laws requiring equal pay for substantially similar work, those laws are limited to discrimination based on sex. The Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act reflects New Jersey’s continuing leadership in the fight against discrimination in the workplace.

To learn more about the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act, which went into effect on July 1, please read the article that Jim McDonnell and Beth Braddock, from the Jackson Lewis law firm, wrote for Pro Bono Partnership.

New Jersey Paid Sick Leave Act

The New Jersey Paid Sick Leave Act, requires nearly all New Jersey employers to provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave to employees during an employer-established “benefit year.” Employees are entitled to earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours they work. The law applies to part-time and full-time employees, including employees who are hired on a seasonal or temporary basis.

An eligible employee is entitled to take paid sick leave for any one or more of the following reasons:

  1. Time needed for diagnosis, care, treatment, or recovery relating to the employee’s own mental or physical health condition, as well as for preventive medical care.
  2. Time needed for diagnosis, care, treatment, or recovery relating to a family member’s mental or physical health condition, as well as for preventive medical care.
  3. Time needed as a result of an employee’s or family member’s status as a victim of domestic or sexual violence, including time off for counseling, accessing victim and legal services, relocation, or participation in any civil or criminal proceedings related to the violence.
  4. Time when the employee’s workplace or the school or place of childcare for the employee’s child is closed by order of a public official due to a public health emergency, or when the employee or a family member has been ordered quarantined by a public health authority.
  5. Time to attend certain school-related conferences, meetings, or other events requested or required by the school of an employee’s child, or to attend a meeting regarding care provided in connection with the child’s health conditions or disability.

The New Jersey Paid Sick Leave Act will provide sick leave benefits to a wide swath of employees who heretofore have not been provided such benefits, especially low-wage earners and part-time employees.

To learn more about the New Jersey Paid Sick Leave Act , which goes into effect on October 29, please read the article that Beth, Jim, and I wrote.

This post should not be construed as, and does not constitute, legal advice on any specific matter, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship.  Organizations should seek advice relating to their unique circumstances from competent legal counsel.

 

Christine Michelle Duffy is New Jersey Program Director of Pro Bono Partnership and a regular contributor to the Dodge Blog.  Christine is editor-in-chief and contributing author of Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Discrimination in the Workplace: A Practical Guide.  In 2017, the treatise Employment Discrimination Law and Litigation recognized Christine as a leading theorist in the area of employment discrimination law.  To learn more about Pro Bono Partnership, or to donate, please visit www.probonopartner.org or call (973) 240-6955.

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