With a new sheriff in town, i.e., Gov. Phil Murphy, New Jersey was able this week to enact the nation’s strictest and farthest-reaching Equal Pay Act after years of vetoes of similar legislation by former Gov. Chris Christie. The law takes effect July 1.
At the signing of the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act, Gov. Murphy said:
“Today, New Jersey takes the first meaningful step towards gender equity and fighting the gender pay gap. This concept is the cornerstone of our efforts to build a stronger and fairer economy of New Jersey.”
Some of the features that render the state’s Equal Pay Act the nation’s most stringent include: a statute of limitations that tolls every time an unequal paycheck is issued; the inclusion of not just gender as a protected class but also race, national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and disability; a broader definition of “substantially similar work” that encompasses a composite of skill, effort and responsibility; and a trebling of damages for back wages due that can span the length of one’s employment.
In short, neither the federal Equal Pay Act nor any of the other states’ with such laws go as far in legal protection and monetary remedy as does New Jersey’s.
The signing of the bill on Tuesday, April 24, came on the heels of Murphy’s 100th day in office, which he commemorated on Wednesday at Rutger’s University.