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Last updateWed, 18 Apr 2018 5pm

Politics

Equal Pay in New Jersey

default article imageGovernor Phil Murphy announced that he will sign into law comprehensive equal pay legislation, last Tuesday, April 10.

“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,” Murphy writes on his twitter account.

Murphy campaigned for equal pay during the New Jersey 2017 gubernatorial race, and wanted to sign the legislation last Tuesday to coincide with the Equal Pay Day.

The bill (S-104) passed both houses of the New Jersey Legislature last month, and Murphy has said that he planned to sign it since.

Murphy postponed his initial signing date, waiting for one of the bill’s chief sponsors, state Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen), to return from vacation, two anonymous sources with knowledge of the decision told reporters at NJ Advance Media.

“As we watch our counterparts in Hollywood, California and England doing the same thing, after scandals revealed men earning dramatically more than women, New Jersey is thankfully taking action,” said Katherine Parkin, Ph.D., Vice President of the Faculty Association and a professor of history and gender studies.

The S-104 Bill makes it illegal for employers in the state to offer lower pay and benefits to workers, protected by the state Law Against Discrimination, which includes “protected classes” such as women and minorities, if they perform “substantially similar work” compared to white males.

The pending law would make employers who pay one person more than another demonstrate how that person’s experience and education separates them and would otherwise deserve more pay.

Women in the U.S. who worked full-time in 2015 made just 80 cents for every dollar that men made, according to a report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. At that rate, women won’t reach pay equality until 2059, the report shows.

“Analysts of our pay laws know one thing for certain, which is that companies persist in paying men more than women by any means necessary,” said Parkin. “One of the ways they have thwarted efforts to ensure equal pay has been through a patently deceitful mechanism of job titles.”

Under the new law, employers would be prohibited from cutting the wages of higher-paid staff in order to make salaries comparable. Additionally, people who sue would be able to recoup thrice as much as they were denied in compensation.

 “Another significant way is by asking how much applicants for jobs earned in their previous job,” Parkin added. This method of facilitating wage inequality was partially resolved in Murphy’s first official action as governor, when he signed an executive order in January 2018 which barrs managers in state government from asking job applicants about their previous salary. 

“By trying to remove these false explanations, [this law is helping] to ensure that women have a more equal shake at equal pay,” Parkin said. “Equality on this front at least, at long last, is here.”

Following the announcement last Tuesday, Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter (D-Essex) told the press, “closing the wage gap is a critical issue for all women, future generations included, who aim to be the best they can be at their jobs.”

“Our daughters should learn about wage discrimination in their history class,” said State Senator Kristin Corrado (R-Passaic) in a press release on the day of Murhy’s announcement. “They should not experience it as a reality in the contemporary working world.”

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