In March 2016, the New Jersey Legislature gained bipartisan support to pass a new bill on pay equity. The bill, like many being considered by state and local governments, aimed to remedy sex discrimination in the workplace and close the wage gap.
The bill would have changed the law to require equal pay for “substantially similar work,” allowed back pay for the entire period of discrimination and required certain public contractors to report employment information. (http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2016/Bills/S1000/992_I1.HTM).
However, shortly after its passage, Governor Chris Christie exercised his veto power, stopping the bill in its tracks. Christie argued the extension of back pay to the entire period of discrimination was too harsh. He suggested the bill should be in line with the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, limiting back pay to two years. He also acknowledged the burden the law would have on employers, calling it “very business unfriendly.” (http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2016/Bills/S1000/992_V1.PDF)
In an effort to override the veto, the state Senate attempted to gain a 2/3 majority vote on the bill. However, after a contentious debate, four of the Republican senators who had previously supported the bill voted against it the second time around. The bill was only four votes short of the override, with three Senate Democrats absent for the vote. While the New Jersey bill ultimately was not passed, the bill’s sponsor, Senator Loretta Weinberg, promised to “bring this up again.”
Stay tuned to the Jackson Lewis Pay Equity Advisor updates on new and pending legislation.