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NJ Lawmakers Consider Pay Equity Bill

New Jersey Statehouse

New Jersey Assembly's Labor Committee will take up a bill Monday that would require employers to provide equal pay to all workers for substantially similar work.        

Elaine Zundl with the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers University says a gender pay gap follows women throughout their lives.

"A gender gap of cents on the dollar can cause a substantial wealth deficit at retirement reducing their quality of life as they age. If that gap were eliminated, women workers could afford to buy 103 more weeks of food, make six more months of mortgage and utility payments, and pay 12 more months of rent."

Alida Kass with the New Jersey Civil Justice Institute opposes the measure. She says

it's a radical bill that poses a danger to employers who have a good-faith belief that their salary structure Is fair and complies with the law.

"It would create a new standard that would equate entirely different jobs based on skill, effort, and responsibility. It would then shift the burden to the employer to justify almost every cent of that disparity, which is almost an undoable thing."

Dena Mattola Jaborska with New Jersey Citizen Action says focusing attention on pay inequity will help prevent it.

“We want companies to know that the public and their employees and people are watching. We want them to clean up their act. It’s no fun to have to sue. It’s not that we want folks to have to go sue. We want to prevent the problem from ever happening in the first place.”

The legislation would allow workers denied pay equity to sue for triple the amount of wage disparity and get up to six years of back pay.