Christie’s Actions on Measures to Help Empower Employees to Fight Wage Discrimination Fall Short
Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt on Friday said that Governor Christie’s actions on a four-bill package she sponsored aimed at bridging the gender pay equity gap demonstrates that he fails to see the big picture and the impact pay discrimination has on women and other minorities in today’s workforce.
“While it’s encouraging that he signed one measure (A-2647) that will require employers to inform workers of their rights to be free of gender inequity or bias in pay, unfortunately the Governor is telling them that they’re on their own in trying to do so because he’s not going to hold businesses accountable for sharing their workforce data.”
Lampitt noted that the legislation Christie vetoed (A-2649) would have required state contractors to file information with the state on the gender, race, job title, occupational category, and rate of compensation for every employee they employ in New Jersey in connection with state contracts, information that the state Division of Civil Rights or any employee of the contractor could request in order to prove wage discrimination.
“The Governor is sending a mixed message. At the end of the day, he left something very, very important unsigned while trying to gloss over it as irrelevant,” added Lampitt. “Transparency is the best way to fight discrimination. Employees have little way of fighting wage discrimination, whether it is based on gender, race or age, unless they know what their counterparts are making. To say this legislation does nothing tangible is completely disingenuous. While we can’t regulate private corporations, we can, in fact, regulate contractors doing business with the state and that is a great starting point.”
Lampitt said she will take a closer look at the two other bills in the package that Christie conditionally vetoed to see if they are common sense measures that would still achieve the initial goals of the bills, which were to (A-2650) lengthen the statute of limitations for employees to take action against unlawful compensation practices and recoup back pay and (A-2648) prohibit employer retaliation if an employee divulges certain job information.
“Unfortunately, we know all too well from our hearings that gender wage discrimination is alive and well in the 21st century,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington), Chair of the Assembly Women and Children Committee. “My fear is that the Governor does not understand the impact pay discrimination can have on working families, especially when a woman is the co- or primary bread winner in the family. It was our intention to empower employees with knowledge of their rights and hold employers more accountable, so that we can chip away the remaining fragments of the glass ceiling.”
Lampitt noted that, 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 occupations. Furthermore, 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.