A two-bill package that would help bridge the gender pay gap and fight discrimination in the workplace has cleared the Assembly Women and Children Committee.

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"Unfortunately, gender wage discrimination is alive and will in the 21st century," said bill sponsor Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, who also chairs the Assembly Women and Children Committee.  "Hopefully by empowering employees and holding employers more accountable, we can chip away the remaining fragments of the glass ceiling."

According to 2009 U.S. Census Bureau data, women still earn roughly 77 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earn.  The gender income gap is highest in higher paying occupations.  Minority women fare significantly worse.

The first bill, the Wage Transparency Act, would require any employer who contracts with the state to provide qualifying services that are not subject to prevailing wage requirements to report to the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development information on gender, race, job title, occupational category and total compensation of every employee they hire in the state in connection with the contracts.

"The bottom line is, New Jerseyans should have a right to know that their tax dollars are not going to firms that engage in discriminatory wage practices against women," said Lampitt.

The second bill, the Unfair Wage Recovery Act, would help employees fight pay discrimination by restarting the applicable statute of limitations governing discriminatory compensation claims under the "Law Against Discrimination."  Under current law, the statute of limitations is two years.

The bills now head to the full Assembly for consideration.