On behalf of our 20,000 members and their 1.2 million employees, I am writing to express our opposition to A-3832.

The bill would require the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) to adopt rules and regulations requiring that a business that receives financial assistance from the authority is not to engage in gender discrimination against workers employed at the business.  A business who receives financial assistance from the EDA would need to verify that the business is not engaging in gender discrimination.

Currently, under N.J.A.C. 19:30-2.2, causes for disqualification/debarment of persons, the authority may decline to give financial assistance, or approval as a tenant in any Authority-financed project, to any person, or may debar a person from Authority project contracting for causes including a violation of the “Law Against Discrimination”, and a violation of any laws governing hours of labor, minimum wage standards, prevailing wage standards, discrimination in wages, or child labor.[1]

Furthermore, A-3832 defines “gender discrimination” as an employment practice in which a business discriminates between its employees on the bases of sex by paying a rate of compensation, including benefits, to employees of one sex less than the rate paid to employees of the other sex for ‘substantially similar work’, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility.

‘Substantially similar work’ is not further defined in this bill nor is it defined in any current federal or New Jersey statute, rule or regulation.  Under the Federal Equal Pay Act, however, all employers must pay equal wages to women and men in the same establishment for performing ‘substantially equal work.’  The law covers all forms of pay, including salary, overtime pay, bonuses, stock options, profit sharing and bonus plans, life insurance, vacation and holiday pay, cleaning or gasoline allowances, hotel accommodations, reimbursement for travel expenses and benefits.  Unequal compensation can be justified only if the employer shows that the pay differential is attributable to a fair seniority, merit or incentive system or a factor other than sex.[2]

While we appreciate the intent of the legislation this bill will do little to further protect against businesses who may be accused of engaging in gender discrimination from receiving assistance from the EDA.  The bill will instead set a new, not clearly defined, standard for justifiably paying different wages for equal work.

For these reasons, we respectfully ask that you vote “No” on A-3832.

 

[1] New Jersey Administrative Code Title 19 Chapter 30 Subchapter 2. Disqualification/Debarment/Conflict of Interest

[2] Equal=Pay an Employer’s Guide to Equal Pay, Women’s Bureau – US Department of Labor

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