Under a 2012 amendment to the New Jersey Equal Pay Act, businesses employing fifty or more people within the state must provide an official notice to their employees of their rights under federal and state law regarding gender equity. The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce (NJDOL) published the final forms for these notices on January 6, 2014. The 2012 legislation required employers to provide the notice to their employees within thirty days of publication, making the deadline February 5. The NJDOL has not specified any penalty for failing to comply with the deadline, nor did the legislation itself provide for penalties. While the notice requirement does not apply to businesses with a small number of employees, the guidance it offers to federal and state employment law is nevertheless useful.
The New Jersey Assembly passed A2647 in June 2012, and it became law on September 19 of that year. The law amends the New Jersey Equal Pay Act, NJ Rev. Stat. §§ 34:11-56.1 et seq., to require notices to employees in a form prescribed by the NJDOL regarding their rights against gender inequity and discrimination under state and federal law. It does not expand workers’ rights in any substantive way, but simply mandates specific forms of notice regarding workers’ existing legal rights.
The law sets a deadline of thirty days after publication of final forms by the NJDOL. NJ Rev. Stat. § 34:11-56.12. This publication occurred on January 6, 2014. For employees hired after the February 5, 2014 deadline, covered employers must provide the notice by the next December 31. Employers must provide a written copy of the form to each employee, and obtain a signed acknowledgment of receipt and understanding. They may distribute the notice form via email; via printed materials delivered to employees with their paychecks, new hire packets, or employee manuals; via flyers delivered to individuals employees; or via a website or company intranet, provided employees receive adequate notice of how to access the site. The notice form is currently available in English and Spanish, and the NJDOL may make it available in other languages as needed.
The notice form published by the NJDOL identifies workers’ rights against gender inequity in pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment; and against discrimination or bias in hiring, firing, promotions, job assignments, and other features of employment based solely on gender. The New Jersey Equal Pay Act and the federal Equal Pay Act of 1963, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d), protect employees of covered New Jersey employers from gender disparity in pay. The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, NJ Rev. Stat. §§ 10:5-1 et seq., and Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq., provide protections against discrimination based on gender, sex, and other categories. Regardless of the number of employees they might have at present, all New Jersey businesses should familiarize themselves with these laws and the protections they offer to workers.
Business attorney Samuel C. Berger offers fixed-fee legal-service packages to New York and New Jersey businesses and entrepreneurs, representing clients in a wide range of legal matters. We are committed to helping our clients understand their legal rights and obligations and to grow and prosper in their businesses. Contact us today online or at (212) 380-8117 to schedule a confidential consultation to see how we may be able to assist you.
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Photo credit: By US Congress [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.