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Monday, January 23, 2023

NJ Wage Payment Attorney, Same Job, But Paid Less Than Co-workers

Workers sometimes may find themselves doing substantially the same job as their co-workers although they are paid less. There may be valid legal reasons for this, i.e., the number of years working for the employer, seniority rules, merit system, collective bargaining agreements, etc. In New Jersey, if the disparity in pay is due to your being a member of a protected class, such as sex, race, age, etc., there may be a violation of the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act. This NJ law, incorporated into the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, is the strongest civil rights - equal pay law in the US. It heavily penalizes employers whose workers who can prove their lesser financial remuneration for doing substantially the same kind of work was illegally based on their being a member of a protected class. You could be entitled to treble damages under the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act if the employer has no legal defenses.

My Co-workers Have Different Job Titles

Unscrupulous employers will sometimes attempt to circumvent this law by assigning different job titles to different persons who are doing substantially the same job with same responsibilities. However merely assigning different job titles is not insurance against the employer incurring liability for this discrimination. This prohibition against disparity in pay based on being a member of a protected class also applies to those who are assigned different job titles. There is protection from pay disparity even when their job title differs from those in non-protected classes who do substantially similar work.

Under the NJLAD, the defined classes given protection under this Act are, including but not limited to color, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, civil union status, domestic partnership status, race, creed, affectional or sexual orientation, genetic information, pregnancy or breastfeeding, sex, gender identity or expression, disability, atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait of any individual, and liability for service in the armed forces.

What Is “Substantially Similar Work”?

A Composite of Skill, Effort and Responsibility

The language in this act defines the illegality as, "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."

To Avoid Liability Under This Law

In rendering decisions in these types of wage claims and deciding what is “substantially similar work”, 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.” Courts will likely look at whether the higher paid non-protected workers and lower paid protected workers:

Have substantially similar duties and responsibilities,

Whether the employees regularly supervise others,

Whether they themselves are regularly supervised,

The amount of discretion and autonomy they are allowed in performing their job duties,

The breadth of their decision-making responsibilities, if any exist,

Training, education, experience, the quantity of work, or the quality of production.

To avoid liability under this law, the employer must demonstrate that the differential is made pursuant to a merit system, a seniority system, or the employer can demonstrate that the differential in pay and compensation is based on one or more bona fide legitimate factors other than the characteristics of members of the protected class, i.e., if the employer can demonstrate that the disparity in wages in not based on the employees' sex or race etc., but on other factors such as training, education, experience, the quantity of work, or the quality of production.

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 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 for a free consultation to discuss your options in the safest way for you.

What You Can Do

I am an aggressive and compassionate employment law attorney who is experienced in successfully representing employees who suffered illegal discrimination in wages. If you find yourself in a situation with inadequate job security because of the aforementioned issues, if you are thinking of resigning, or have been fired or think you will be fired, it is important that you consult with an attorney who is experienced in discrimination.

I am successful in bringing employee lawsuits against governmental entities and private employers and recovering money for victims of age, race, sex, disability, sexual orientation, and other discrimination. If you think you are being pushed out of your job or retaliated against, you should contact this office immediately for a free consultation.

Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law represents workers throughout the entire state, including Hackensack, Jersey City, Newark, Irvington, Orange, East Orange, Trenton, Paterson, Montclair, Elizabeth, North Brunswick, Cherry Hill, Vineland, Union, Plainfield, Hamilton Township, Lakewood, Edison, Parsippany-Troy Hills, Franklin, Lakewood, and every NJ County, including Bergen, Hudson, Middlesex, Essex, Monmouth, Somerset, Ocean, Union, Camden, Passaic, Morris, Gloucester, Atlantic, Burlington, Camden Counties.


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