10.09.2012Adding to existing employer notice and posting obligations, Governor Chris Christie recently signed a bill that will require New Jersey employers to provide written notification to employees informing them of their right to gender equality in pay, compensation, benefits and other terms and conditions of employment. The law, which supplements New Jersey’s Equal Pay Act, will apply to all New Jersey employers with 50 or more employees. The law takes effect November 21, 2012. Federal and New Jersey law already prohibit employers from discriminating in the rate or method of wage payments because of an employee’s gender. Under New Jersey's new gender equality bill, employers will be required to post an equal pay notice in a conspicuous place accessible to all workers at each worksite. The form of the notice will be issued by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development. In addition, employers will be required to provide a copy of the notice to all new hires and employees, and obtain their written acknowledgement that they have read and understand the notice. This must be done for existing employees within 30 days after the Department has released the required form and then annually thereafter. Notice should be given in English, Spanish and any other language the employer reasonably believes is the primary language of 10 percent or more of its employees. Employers will be permitted to provide notice to their employees in various ways such as by e-mail, a paycheck insert, a handbook attachment and in an informational packet for new hires. The posting requirement can be satisfied by posting the notice on an Internet or Intranet website, provided the site is accessible to all workers and for their exclusive use. The bill follows a great deal of recent attention to wage and hour and equal pay practices. For example, in 2009, President Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which provides that the 180-day statute of limitations for filing equal-pay lawsuits resets each time compensation is paid pursuant to a discriminatory decision or practice. There has also been a noticeable increase the last several years in USDOL and NJDOL wage and hour investigations, and New Jersey employers should assume that the equal pay posting and notice requirements will be added to the investigators' checklist for onsite inspections. New Jersey employers should begin making plans to implement the gender equality notification requirements to ensure compliance prior to November 21, 2012. The prudent employer will add the new notice and posting requirements to their own wage and hour self-audit checklist. Our firm recommends a self-audit at least every two years, and our Wage & Hour Compliance Practice Group regularly assists our clients in conducting these audits. For more information on New Jersey’s Equal Pay Act, federal and state wage and hour requirements and our firm’s wage and hour compliance audit services, please contact John R. Vreeland, Esq., Director of the firm's Wage & Hour Compliance Practice Group, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Douglas J. Klein, Esq., email@example.com, or call (973) 533-0777.