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New Jersey Proposes New Notice Requirements for Employers to Combat Gender Discrimination

  • January 11, 2013

The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce is proposing new workplace notification rules requiring employers with at least 50 employees to post conspicuously a notification informing workers of their rights to be free from gender inequity or bias in pay, compensation, benefits, or other employment terms and conditions under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and the Equal Pay Act of 1963 on January 7, 2013. A proposed “form of notification” also was published on January 7. 

Governor Chris Christie signed the new anti-discrimination notice requirements in September 2012, after the bill received final legislative approval in June. The proposed form of the notification states, “New Jersey and federal laws prohibit employers from discriminating against an individual with respect to his/her pay, compensation, benefits, or terms, conditions or privileges of employment because of the individual’s sex.” The remainder of the proposed notification lists the prohibitions and remedies in the previously mentioned laws covering gender discrimination.

Public comment on the proposal will be accepted at least through March 8, 2013. Employers will have to begin meeting the new requirements after the comment period is over and a final form of notification is adopted and issued.

Employer Obligations

In addition to requiring a conspicuous posting of the “form of notification,” the new law will require qualifying employers to provide written copies of the notification to their employees within 30 days of the requirement’s effective date. Thereafter, a copy of the notification must be provided to any new employee at the time of hire. Employers also will have to provide copies of the written notice annually, on or before December 31, as well as at any time a worker requests it. 

The proposed rules allow employers alternatives in getting the notification to employees. They may do so by e-mail delivery or by distributing printed material, including a pay check insert, attachment to a handbook, or flyer distributed at an employee meeting. Employers also may make the written copy of the notification available to employees through an internet or intranet website, provided the website is for the exclusive use of all of the employer’s workers, can be accessed by all workers, and the employer provides notice to workers of the posting. In order to establish proof of delivery, employers will be required to obtain employees’ signatures on an acknowledgment contained in the notification. The acknowledgment will state that the worker has read the notification and understood its terms. The acknowledgment must be returned within 30 days of the notification’s receipt. Signature may be in writing or by means of electronic verification. 

Under the notification rules, employers must post and provide the notification in English and Spanish, which the labor commissioner will make available. In addition, the commissioner will determine other languages in which to make the notification available. It is the employer’s responsibility to post and provide the notification in any language the commissioner has made available, provided that the employer “reasonably believes [it] is the first language of a significant number of the employer’s workforce.” 

New Jersey employers already must post notices under the Law Against Discrimination stating it is illegal to discriminate against a protected class, such as one based on gender, with respect to any condition of employment. They also must post federal equal employment opportunity notices addressing workers’ rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The new posting requirement, however, would focus specifically on gender discrimination, and the annual distribution requirement would create a new responsibility for New Jersey employers.

Opportunity to Comment on Proposed Notification

While the original January 7, 2013, proposal lists March 8 as the closing date for comments, an administrative correction is expected to be issued in the January 22 edition of the state Register extending the deadline by two weeks. A public hearing on the proposed new rules will be held on January 30, 2013 at the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development in Trenton, New Jersey. 

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