The Unites States Census Bureau has consistently found that women are paid less than men every year. Indeed, the National Women’s Law Center found that in New Jersey in 2012, a woman made approximately 79 cents for every dollar a man made. These discrepancies do not just account for females in different careers from males, but that this pay differential is also present for females in the same or similar fields as their male counterparts.
While New Jersey does not have as wide a gap between men and women as some other states, the pay gap is still clear and ongoing. While discrimination against women has constituted a violation of New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination for decades, it is often difficult to prove. For instance, an employer can simply say that its female employee was being paid less than a similarly situated male employee because the male employee had better qualifications or performed better. It would be rare for an employer to have two employees, one male and one female, who had the same education, the same grades, attended the same schools, had the same level of experience and measures of success, and performed or produced exactly the same. Therefore, it is difficult to prove that any pay discrepancy is due to gender and not some other valid reason.
However, even more basic than that, the employee would have to be able to find out in the first place that she was in fact being paid less than what she would be paid if she were male. Indeed, many employers have a strict policy of forbidding employees from discussing their salaries, wages, or other benefits. While employers have a right to make the determination about what they will pay their employees, employers cannot take something such as gender into account when making that determination, just as employers cannot alter their payments as a result of race or religious beliefs.
New Jersey has recently passed a law which will hopefully make it easier for employees to prove that they are being discriminated against because of gender through pay discrepancies. This equal pay law prohibits employers from punishing employees who disclose personal employment information such as title, compensation, and benefits to other employees in the process of investigating whether the employer is discriminating against employees based on characteristics such as gender, race, ethnicity, or national origin, as long as the disclosure or request for disclosure was made with the reasonable belief that the employer was taking part in discriminatory treatment through disparate compensation. This would override an employer’s policy of not allowing employees to share the terms of their compensation in these circumstances.
The attorneys at McLaughlin & Nardi, LLC are experienced with employment laws, particularly in relation to discriminatory treatment by employers, and can advise of both employers and employees’ rights in relation to employment law requirements in New Jersey. To learn more about what we may be able to do to help, please visit our website, or contact one of our New Jersey lawyers by e-mail or telephone at (973) 890-0004.