New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a bill into law today that will ban salary secrecy for employees trying to uncover wage discrimination. The bill will make it illegal for a company to fire an employee if the employee disclosed their job title and wage level for the purposes of discovering whether someone is being paid unfairly.
Currently, New Jersey women make 0.78 for every dollar a man earns. This is similar to the nationwide wage gap in which women make 0.77 for every dollar a man earns. A 2008 study by the Department of Labor found that after incorporating control factors the wage gap shrinks from 0.77 to the dollar to .93-.95 to the dollar. Despite the shrink after control factors were accounted for, the question still remains of why woman are paid even once cent less than men for the same work. That is what this new bill aims to help employees uncover.
The bill is meant to mirror the federal Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA). One of the primary goals of the PFA is to prevent employees from being retaliated against if they try to uncover wage discrimination. Nearly half of all companies either forbid or strongly discourage employees from discussing their wages. This makes it extremely difficult for women to uncover gender-base wage discrimination without being retaliated against.
Both the New Jersey equal pay law and the PFA arrive at a much needed time. Recent studies show that after years of narrowing, the wage gap may have widened in the last two years. The gap is the widest in higher paying jobs.
Pam Lampitt, Chair of the Assembly Women and Children Committee and a co-sponsor of the bill, spoke about the victory the bill represents for New Jersey women.
“Unfortunately, we know all too well that gender wage discrimination is alive and well in the 21st century,” Lampitt said. “Hopefully by empowering employees with knowledge of their rights and holding employers more accountable, we can chip away the remaining fragments of the glass ceiling.”