The New Jersey state Senate Labor Committee will hold a hearing tonight on Senate Bill 104, which would guarantee equal pay for the same work for men, women and minorities.
The proposed legislation would require employers to base salaries solely on merit and performance. The bill would carry stiffer penalties for violators of the proposed law than could be pursued under the federal government’s Equal Pay Law, passed in 1963.
S. 104 would require employers to pay a back-pay recovery period to an employee who might have been discriminated against and to award treble damages to employees who might be victims of discriminatory pay.
The bill is co-sponsored by state Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, D – 37th District, Senate president Stephen Sweeney, D – 3rd District, and Senate Deputy Majority Leader Sandra Cunnigham, D – 31st District.
The bill would shift the burden of proof to employers to prove that they are not being discriminatory towards female and minority employees if a complaint is brought against them. It also would require employers to enter into a contract with a public body and disclose to the state’s Commissioner of Labor and Workforce the total compensation of every one of its women and minority employees, as well as disclose their compensations.
The New Jersey Society of CPAs said S. 104 would create undue legal burdens on companies.
“S. 104, as currently drafted, would make New Jersey an outlier among states and would seriously undermine New Jersey's efforts to attract and retain business,” the group said.
In January, Gov. Phil Murphy’s issued an executive order forbidding state agencies from asking about the employees’ salary histories, thus forcing employers to base salaries on the demands and requirement of individual jobs. The order is intended to close a wage gender gap in the state.