A win for women in New Jersey.  A bill to help fight the gender wage gap has been signed into law today by Gov. Chris Christie. According to 2009 U.S. Census Bureau data, women still earn roughly 77 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earn, with the gender income gap highest in higher paying jobs.

The law makes it illegal for employers to retaliate against any employee who discloses to any other worker information such as the job title, occupational category, rate of compensation (including benefits), or the gender, race or other characteristics of the employee if the disclosure was made for the purpose of investigating the possibility of pay or compensation discrimination.

It’s sponsored in the Assembly by Democrats Angel Fuentes, Pam Lampitt and Celeste Riley.

“Putting a gag order on employees enables employers to continue discriminatory compensation practices because they can operate behind a cloak of secrecy,” said Fuentes. “Employees shouldn’t face threats for willingly sharing information about their own job, especially in the name of pay equity.”

The measure received full legislative approval last June, but Christie conditionally vetoed it. He proposed a technical change that would remove the language of the law known as the Whistleblower Act, and instead incorporate it into the existing “Law Against Discrimination Act,” under which workplace discrimination claims in New Jersey are traditionally brought.

“Unfortunately, we know all too well that gender wage discrimination is alive and well in the 21st century,” said Lampitt, Chair of the Assembly Women and Children Committee. “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.”

The 2009 U.S. Census Bureau data also shows minority women fare significantly worse with median earnings for African American and Hispanic women working full-time, year-round far less compared to their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts.

“It’s almost mind boggling to think that women today still face some of the same discrimination in the workplace that they did 100 years ago,” explained Riley. “Any woman that is as equally educated or qualified as a man should be entitled to equal compensation for the same job, plain and simple.”


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