NJ Bans Employers From Retaliating Against Employees Who Discuss Their Pay

It is now illegal in New Jersey to retaliate against an employee who talks about his or her salary or those of others in the company if it is related to litigation.

On August 29, 2013, Gov. Chris Christie signed a law that makes it a violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”) for an employer to retaliate against a worker who discloses information regarding job titles, occupational categories and compensation rates of other employees if the information disclosed is to be used in any legal action alleging discriminatory treatment in pay, benefits or bonuses.

The amendment to the LAD protects employees who divulge pay and benefit information when asked to by anyone who has a good-faith belief that they are subject to pay discrimination, but does not protect those who merely want to find out what other employees are paid and what benefits they receive. The LAD makes it illegal to compensate employees differently based on their membership in a protected class, such as gender, race, disability status, national origin, sexual orientation, or religion. Employers, of course, are still able to base pay decisions on merit.

Under the new law, employees are not protected from an adverse employment action unless the discussion of salary is somehow related to gathering information about possible discrimination. Because it can be difficult to ascertain whether an employee’s motives for discussing pay and benefits are protected under the new law, we strongly recommend that competent employment counsel be consulted.