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Monday, February 14, 2022

NJ Sex Discrimination Lawyer, Extreme Gender Gap in Women’s Wages Has Two Fault Lines

In New Jersey as of January 1, 2022, the minimum wage required to be paid by most employers is $13.00 an hour, which is up one dollar from the $12.00 minimum in 2021. A woman working full-time at thirteen dollars an hour does not receive sufficient wages to support herself and contribute to her families’ support, yet many women in New Jersey attempt to do so. In NJ, as in other states throughout the US, many of these low paid women are employed as food preparation/serving workers whose employers include fast food national and international chain industries.

Nationally, female workers make up sixty percent or more of the workforce in four of the fastest-growing US job categories. Of the jobs in these categories, three occupations, home health aides, personal care aides, and food preparation/serving workers which includes fast food workers in national and international chains, are underpaid occupations.    

The Gender Wage Gap Has Two Fault Lines Which Deprecate Female Labor

The First Fault Line:

The first fault line is when a female worker is paid less than a male worker for doing substantially the same job for the same employer. Movement toward correcting this type of gender inequity can be sought legislative processes through the passage of laws prohibiting such pay disparity based on sex or gender. In New Jersey, with the passage of the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act, the law now comes down hard on NJ employers when their workers can prove their disparity in pay for doing substantially the same kind of work was illegally based on their class. This NJ statute is the most aggressive equal pay law in the country. It protects women and minorities from pay disparity when their job title differs from non-protected classes who do substantially similar work.

If you are a NJ worker whose employer is paying you less for doing substantially the same kind of work as other employees, and the pay disparity is based upon your race, age, gender etc., you could be entitled to treble damages under the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act if the employer has no legal defenses.

If you are thinking of resigning, you should contact this office immediately before you do so, to explore your options in the safest possible way for you. I am an aggressive and compassionate employment law attorney who is experienced in successfully representing women who were subjected to unequal pay, harassment, discrimination and retaliation in the workplace and/or were fired, and am successful in recovering money to compensate them.

Substantially Similar Work - This statute makes it illegal:

"For an employer to pay any of its employees who is a member of a protected class at a rate of compensation, including benefits, which is less than the rate paid by the employer to employees who are not members of the protected class for substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort and responsibility."

Language within the statute gives indications of what the courts will likely consider in rendering decisions in these types of wage claims as to whether the employer has any legitimate legal defenses. In deciding what is “substantially similar work” under this law, the courts will likely consider some key language in the statue itself. i.e., “substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort and responsibility.”

The Second Fault Line:

The second fault line occurs because the occupational distributions of women and men differ considerably along with their corresponding wages. This fault line is harder to correct legislatively because it has its roots in sociological pre-conceptions deeply embedded in the culture for centuries (similar to racism) which may not be easily erased through statutes.

Compared to male workers, relatively few women are employed in any type of construction industry serving commercial enterprises or homeowners, including those encompassing indoor employment, outdoor employment, and in trades such as electricians, mechanics, fine carpentry, production, etc., and relatively few women are employed within the transportation occupation, both public and private drivers for transportation services and the trucking industry. The latter are usually allocated to men, while women are more prevalent working in office and support jobs which typically have a lower pay scale.

When women do obtain employment in fields that are traditionally considered “male” occupations, they often have to “prove” themselves, that they are capable of handling the physical and mental aspects of the job tasks in a way that men do not have to prove because it is assumed. Although women are both mentally and fit to perform and excel in traditionally male-dominated fields, they are often treated as disfavored imposters who are not worthy of promotions.

A failure to move up the pay scale at the same rate as men and continued treatment of discountenance leads to some women seeking other employment or starting their own business where appropriate. Further training and higher education does not close the gender pay gap even when working in male-dominated fields.

The gender gap increases with the level of a woman’s education. Women who are high school graduates with no college education only earn 76.2% of what men who are high school graduates without a college education earns according to 2020 annual averages released in government statistics. Women who have some college credit or earned an associate degree who are full-time wage and salary workers, earn only 75.9% of the median usual weekly earnings relative to males earn who have a comparable education.

The gender pay gap is illegal. You do not have to suffer sexual harassment to bring a sex discrimination claim under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination

Illegal disparity in pay without any harassment constitutes illegal discrimination and harm to you, a woman, in all aspects of your life and family. The Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act has been incorporated into the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. This Act awards trebles damages to a plaintiff who is illegally discriminated against in pay because of sex (and other protected classes). It is not necessary that you have the exact same job title. This Act makes it mandatory to not discriminate in pay, with some exceptions, if the workers are doing substantially similar job functions, even when the titles differ.

If you quit your job, you may lose right to prevail in a lawsuit

In many instances of discrimination, if you quit your job, you may lose right to prevail in a lawsuit. If you are thinking of quitting, or you think you will be fired, you should know that you may lose your right to prevail in a lawsuit unless you first take certain legally required measures to preserve your job while you are still employed. If you are thinking of quitting, or think you will be fired, you should contact this office immediately to discuss your options in the safest way for you.

Statistics prove that  employees who quit their employment have an extremely lower rate of prevailing in a lawsuit than employees who were terminated. This is because if an employee quits, the former employee will have to prove what is known in legal terms as a “constructive discharge” which is a very high threshold to prove.

If you are thinking of resigning, you should contact this office immediately before you do so, to explore your options in the safest possible way for you. I am an aggressive and compassionate employment law attorney who is experienced in successfully representing persons who were subjected to unequal pay, harassment, discrimination and retaliation in the workplace and/or were fired, and am successful in recovering money to compensate them.

If you have experienced discrimination at work, or if you reported it and no action was taken, if you are thinking of resigning, or think you will be fired, or have been fired, it is important that you consult with an attorney who is experienced in employment discrimination. If you are being subjected to workplace discrimination, contact Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law today for a free consultation.

Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law serves clients throughout New Jersey, 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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