On January 7, 2013, the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (“the Department”) published proposed rules to implement a bill that Governor Chris Christie signed into law in September 2012 which requires certain New Jersey employers to post and distribute a notification to employees concerning their rights to be free of gender inequity or bias in the workplace. Significantly, the notice of proposal contains the text of a proposed form of notification. The proposed form of notification can be found as Appendix B to the proposed rules at the following website: http://lwd.dol.state.nj.us/labor/forms_pdfs/legal/2013/45_NJR_17_a_.pdf
The underlying law requires employers with 50 or more employees to “conspicuously post” a notification “detailing the right to be free of gender inequity or bias in pay, compensation, benefits, or other terms or conditions of employment” under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964, and the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Employers must post the notification in a place accessible to all employees in each of the employer’s workplaces.
Pursuant to the law, employers must also provide employees with a copy of the notification: (1) within 30 days of when the form of notification takes effect; (2) upon the hiring of an employee, if that employee is hired after the notification’s issuance; (3) annually; and (4) upon request by an employee. Employers can make the notification available through email, printed material, or on an Internet or Intranet website, provided that the site is for the exclusive use of employees and that the employer notifies employees of its posting. Additionally, each employee is required to acknowledge his or her receipt and understanding of the notification, either by written or electronic signature, within 30 days of its receipt.
The proposed rules primarily restate the requirements outlined in the statute, with two exceptions. First, the proposed language clarifies that the requisite number of employees needed to trigger the law -- 50 -- includes employees who work either inside or outside New Jersey. Second, the proposed rules explain that the poster requirement may be satisfied by posting the notification on an Internet or Intranet site that is for the exclusive use of employees and is accessible only to employees.
Importantly, the notification and distribution requirements will be triggered only once the comment period concludes and the Department adopts and issues a final form of notification. Although that may not occur until late March, employers should begin taking steps now to prepare for compliance with the law. In particular, employers should begin developing a system to distribute the notification and to collect employees’ acknowledgements of receipt.
We will continue to monitor the status of the regulations and update you with any developments.
This article was co-written by Brian Garrett, a law clerk at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP currently admitted to the New Jersey Bar and awaiting admission to the Bar of the State of New York.Copyright © 2014, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP.