A bill designed to balance the pay of men and women, and another to bar wastewater from hydraulic fracturing from being shipped into the state, advanced today in the Legislature.
The four-bill gender pay package, whose sponsors include Assemblywoman Pamela R. Lampitt (D-Voorhees) and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck), was strongly opposed by the New Jersey Business & Industry Association.
NJBIA Assistant Vice President Stefanie Riehl said the goals for the measures were laudable, but the details of the bills would duplicate current regulations and prove burdensome to employers.
The bills would require businesses to notify workers about their right to be free of gender bias in pay; bar employers from punishing employees for sharing pay information with others; make public contractors file information with the state about their employees' pay; and allow pay discrimination claims to be based on ongoing differences, rather than on the initial biased decision, which may have expired under the statute of limitations.
Employer attorney M. Trevor Lyons, of Connell Foley LP, raised separate concerns with each bill, including that the measure barring employers from punishing employees would add confusion and uncertainty while the activity is already protected under current law.
The package was supported by the New Jersey Association for Justice, whose members include plaintiff and defense attorneys. Kevin M. Costello, of Costello & Mains, is a member of the association's employment law section, and said the protection from employer retaliation in the bill is similar to current law, but provides "more complete protection."
The wastewater ban, S-253, was opposed from a broad array of business groups, which argued there are regulations in place that would ensure that the water can be transported safely in the state.
"It is a very open process, a very established process that does work to meet this standard of appropriate regulation," said Jim Benton, executive director of the New Jersey Petroleum Council.
However, environmental groups argued that current regulations are inadequate to address safety concerns from the water. Michael Pisauro, of the New Jersey Environmental Lobby, said the state should ban the wastewater, because treatment plants are not equipped to process it.