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Monday, May 20, 2019

Can I Be Fired for Discussing My Pay with Other Employees? The Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act

Many employers have issued rules and warnings to employees that they are prohibited from discussing their salary with other employees. I, myself, worked for employers who had that rule in the workplace. Sometimes, employers have been so bold as to mandate that this is a company rule in the official Employee Handbook. In New Jersey, an employer's prohibition against employees comparing their pay and compensation with one another became illegal as of July 1, 2018, the date the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act was signed into law.

This Act, which became incorporated into the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD),  makes it illegal for an employer to require as a condition of employment, that the employee refrain from discussing with or disclosing to any other employee or former employee of the employer, information regarding the job title, occupational category, and rate of compensation including benefits, of the employee or any other employee or former employee of the employer.

Further strictly prohibited is that employer cannot make employees sign a paper that is a waiver of these rights, i.e., that the employee agrees he/she will not discuss his/her pay with other employees as a condition of employment.

The prohibition against these waivers applies to prospective employees during the interview process and to those who are already employees of the company.

In New Jersey, it is now strictly illegal by statute for an employer to require that any employee or prospective employee sign any paper that is a waiver, or to otherwise require an employee or prospective employee to agree, not to make requests of others inquiring about their pay and compensation information or disclosures.

However, it should be noted that there is nothing in this statute that requires employees to answer the questions of other employees regarding their pay, compensation and benefits. If the employee chooses to not answer the questions of other employees regarding their pay, compensation, and benefits, they have the right to not answer. Nothing in the new subsection of the NJLAD shall be construed to require an employee to disclose such information about the employee himself/ herself to any other employee or former employee of the employer or to any authorized representative of the other employee or former employee.

Retaliation

Under the NJLAD, it is not only illegal to tell employees that they cannot discuss their pay with others as a condition for employment, it is also illegal to retaliate against the employee if the employee does inquire or discuss with his co-workers their pay and compensation in benefits. If you did not follow your employer's instructions to not discuss pay, and your employer found out and retaliated against you, you may have a claim for illegal retaliation.

This includes if your employer took reprisals against you because you opposed any practices or acts forbidden under this act. Also included, is if your employer took reprisals against you because sought legal advice regarding your rights under this act, shared relevant information with legal counsel, shared information with a governmental entity, or filed a complaint, testified or assisted in any proceeding under this act.

Do not sit on your rights, or you may lose the right to file your claim.

If your employer has a rule against discussing pay, or retaliated against you for objected this rule or for discussing your pay or if you think you have been retaliated against for asserting your rights, it is essential for you to contact an experienced, aggressive and successful employment discrimination and whistleblower attorney who will be aggressive about enforcing your rights as soon as possible.

If you have been demoted, had your hours cut, terminated, harassed or been subjected to retaliation for complaining about, objecting to, refusing to participate in, or reporting what you believe is your employer’s illegal or improper conduct, you should contact this law firm as soon as possible. I am an experienced, aggressive and compassionate employment attorney who will be aggressive about enforcing your rights.  I am successful in bringing discrimination and whistleblower lawsuits and recovering money for workers.

If you are being subjected to such unlawful workplace acts or retaliation, contact Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law today for a free consultation. I accept whistleblower and discrimination cases from all over New Jersey.

New Jersey employment attorney, Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law serves clients throughout the state, including Bergen, Middlesex, Essex, Hudson, Monmouth, Ocean, Union, Camden, Passaic, and Morris Counties with locations in Southern, Central, Western and Northern NJ to meet with clients.



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