Equality is blooming in the Garden State. On Tuesday, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed the most extensive pay-equity bill of any state in the US.
The new law cracks down on workplace discrimination, requiring equal pay for “substantially similar work.” Though New Jersey already had equal pay laws in place, the bill — also called the "Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act" — amends and strengthens the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.
Not only does the bill explicitly prohibit wage discrimination on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, nationality, disability, and pregnancy, it also creates a path for redress for those who have been discriminated against in the past.
Under the new law, people who did not receive equal pay for equal work can sue for up to six years of back pay.
The bill is being celebrated as a win for women and a major step toward closing the gender pay gap.
"Today, we are sending a beacon far and wide to women across the Garden State and in America, the only factors to determine a worker's wages should be intelligence, experience and capacity to do the job,” Murphy said upon signing the bill. “Pay equity will help us in building a stronger, fairer New Jersey."
In 2016, a woman in New Jersey earned 82 cents, on average, for every dollar a man was paid for comparable work, according to the US Census Bureau. This was on par with the national gender wage gap. The disparity was substantially worse among men and women of color, with black women in the state making just 58 cents for every dollar paid to white men, and Latina women earning only 43 cents, the National Partnership for Women and Families reported.
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