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Drawing of man and woman on a balance scaleGov. Phil Murphy today signed into law a sweeping equal pay bill, making it a violation of New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (LAD) to pay women less than men for substantially the same work and prohibits employers from punishing employees for discussing their pay with others.

The new law imposes steep penalties; the aggrieved employee may obtain relief for up to six years of back pay and it allows courts to award treble damages for violations of the law.

While NJBIA has always supported the core intent of the legislation, the association was concerned about an earlier version of the bill that proposed an unlimited lookback period for the recovery of wages.

The original proposal provided an “unlimited lookback period for the recovery of wages because it extended beyond legal precedent found in the LAD and the federal Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009,” said NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka in a statement released today.

“We appreciate the changes made by the bill’s sponsor incorporating less onerous reporting requirements for public contractors and capping the lookback period to six years, rather than the decades originally sought,” she said. “However, the reasons why pay equity exists in some instances are very complex and are void of discriminatory reasons. As such, we must be mindful of aggressive legal efforts to capitalize on the six-year lookback period, without merit, which will come at great expense to unsuspecting businesses.

“NJBIA offers businesses possibly impacted by such legal action several resources to help them, including future programs addressing this new legislation.”