On Equal Pay Day 2022, it is important to highlight progress, but also acknowledge the hard work that still needs to occur. U.S. Census Bureau data on equal pay reveals that while the gender pay gap has decreased for younger women as they increase their educational levels and enter fields that have been traditionally male-dominated, women are still over-represented in lower paying jobs. And as they age, the pay gap disparity widens. Although since the signing of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 the gender pay gap has lessened, according to 2020 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics women still only earned 82 cents for every dollar a man earns. The gap is even greater for women of color.
In the wake of the #MeToo Movement, New Jersey, like many states, enacted tougher equal pay laws. In July 2018, NJ passed the historic Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act (Diane B. Allen EPA). In a published article entitled, “A ‘Lookback’ on New Jersey’s Diane B. Allen Equal Act and the Road Ahead,” KSB Law attorneys (Kirsten Scheurer Branigan, Carole Lynn Nowicki, and Beth P. Zoller) provide an update on where things stand nearly four years after the law’s passage.
Since the passage of the Diane B. Allen EPA, employees are bringing expansive equal pay claims against private and public sectors employers. Employers must be vigilant in ensuring that compensation disparities do not occur based upon gender and other protected categories under the law. Equal pay lawsuits can result in significant exposure, especially given evolving laws that afford broader protections and expanded damages and penalties, such as those under the Diane B. Allen EPA.
Self-evaluation EPA Audits are important tools to limit exposure and damages, but also to ensure pay equity among employees. During EPA Audits, a data assessment is performed as to demographics, compensation, roles, duties, skills, effort, responsibilities, and protected category status for the purpose of determining compensation disparities.
Post-EPA Audit Legal Assessments are likewise critical. These Legal Assessments can involve analyzing underlying support for disparities identified, the applicability of possible employer defenses, and the strength of those defenses based on the data provided. This process involves an assessment of statutory factors, seniority/merit-based systems, and other asserted reasons.
To ensure compliance with equal pay laws, EPA Training is key for legal and compliance personnel, human resources, and business leaders involved in the hiring process and decisions regarding compensation and benefits in order to avoid disparities and areas of risk.
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This summary is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice. This information should not be reused without permission.