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Proposed wage law faces uncertain future on governor's desk

Wage laws are front and center once again for New Jersey, with another equal pay bill making its way to Governor Chris Christie's desk. It is yet to be seen if it will survive the veto that has killed similar bills that have previously made this journey. In the nearly six years since Christie took office in 2010, the Democratically-controlled legislature has produced three similar bills that have all met with a veto, although there is some momentum for this particular bill that may entail an override vote.

If passed, the bill will provide simpler and easier measures for employees to bring wage discrimination suits against their employers. Like other similar bills, the statute of limitations for bringing a pay discrimination suit would start anew at the issuing date of each paycheck that was discriminatory. Also, the bill steps up available measures even further than the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, on which it is primarily modeled, by allowing a plaintiff to seek damages from an employer or former employer without any time restrictions.

Other particularly contentious components of the bill, as indicated by Christie, are the treble damages provision and a provision requiring employers with state contracts to assume responsibility to self-report on the pay and demographics of all employees serving under the state contract. The governor has suggested that treble damages, or the tripling of damages owed due to the discriminatory nature of the claims, is unsupported by large swaths of state and federal precedent, while contending that the pay and demographic requirements would look good to liberal constituents, but do very little to improve workplace discrimination.

While the bill's fate is still uncertain, workers' rights remain a real concern for many employees throughout the state and the country. If you have been discriminated against in the workplace, whether in wages or in some other form, there is no reason to simply do nothing. The guidance of an attorney with experience defending employees' rights can help you protect your rights as you pursue justice.

Source: New Jersey Law Journal, "Will NJ's Equal Pay Bills Survive Christie's Repeated Vetoes?," Michael Booth, Oct. 24, 2016

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