A measure advancing through the New Jersey Legislature would help protect women against wage discrimination.
Sen. Sandra Cunningham said women in New Jersey earn an average of 80 cents for every dollar a man makes for doing the same job.
“If wages continue to change at the current rate, women in New Jersey will not see — are you ready for this — will not see equal pay until the year 2055,” said Cunningham, D-Hudson.
A bill passed by the state Senate and awaiting action in the Assembly would prohibit employers from paying workers of one gender less than another for substantially similar work.
Ann Vardeman with New Jersey Citizen Action said the measure would remedy a longstanding injustice.
“We cannot wait for the invisible hand of the market to right this wrong. They’re getting paid less because of the choices they’re making by having families. We can’t continue to do this,” she said. “What we need to do is pass legislation in order to make pay equity a reality now.”
Deb Huber, the state president of the National Organization for Women, said she’s pleased the legislation specifies ways women can determine if they are underpaid.
“If they’re on one of these state contracts, they can find out what data has been reported on their employer,” Huber said. “Also, the provision that employees could talk to each other about how much they’re earning. You know that’s a big help.”
Employers who violate the law would face substantial financial penalties.