Says Wage Fairness Is Necessary for Struggling Working Class Families
TRENTON – Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem, issued the following statement today after the Senate Labor Committee approved a package of bills he sponsored to advance pay equity in the Garden State:
“At a time when working families are struggling to make ends meet, and more and more women are contributing to their family’s bottom line – and in many instances, are the primary wage earners in their families – we have to ensure that every person in New Jersey gets paid a fair wage for equal work. This is a matter of fundamental fairness to our State’s working class.
“The bills passed by the Labor Committee today put New Jersey on a better course towards pay equity and reducing the gap between what men and women earn. While they represent a leveling of the field, New Jersey State lawmakers of good conscience have to be vigilant against unfair – and ultimately, illegal – wage and employment practices which discriminate against anyone based on gender, race, creed, ethnicity or any other social criteria.”
The bills that were approved by the Labor Committee today are:
• S-1930, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Senator Linda Greenstein, which would require employers to post notice of worker rights – particularly the right to be free of gender inequity or bias in pay – in the workplace, and to provide written or electronic notification to workers of their rights under the New Jersey “Law Against Discrimination,” Title VII of the federal “Civil Rights Act of 1964” and the “Equal Pay Act of 1963.” The bill was approved by a vote of 3-1 with one abstention;
• S-1932, sponsored by Senators Weinberg and Greenstein, which would require public contractors to report the gender, race, job title, occupational category and rate of compensation of every person employed in New Jersey in association with a public contract to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The bill was approved by a vote of 3-1 with one abstention;
• S-1933, sponsored by Senate President Sweeney and Senator Weinberg, which would apply provisions of the federal “Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009” – namely, the ability to “restart” the statute of limitations every time an employee receives a paycheck that violates discriminatory pay practices – to the State “Law Against Discrimination.” The sponsors noted that the goal of the legislation is to ensure that people who’ve been subject to pay discrimination for an extended period of time wouldn’t have their claims thrown out in court on a technicality. The bill was approved by a vote of 3-1 with one abstention;
• S-1935, sponsored by Senators Weinberg and Greenstein, which would prohibit employers from retaliating against any employee who discusses information regarding job title, occupational category and rate of compensation with a fellow or former employee. The intent, according to the bill sponsors, is to create a more open environment in which pay disparity based on gender discrimination is uncovered and dealt with appropriately. The bill was approved by a vote of 3-1 with one abstention;
• SR-50, sponsored by Senate President Sweeney, Senator Weinberg, and Senator Barbara Buono, which urges Congress to pass the “Paycheck Fairness Act,” in order to combat the persistent income gap attributable to systemic gender discrimination nationwide. The resolution was approved by a vote of 4-0 with one abstention.
All five bills now head to the full Senate for consideration.