Effective August 29, 2013, New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination prohibits employer reprisals against an employee who asks another employee, or former employee, for her rate of pay, as well as other information such as the other employee’s benefits, job category, race, ethnicity or national origin. To be protected, however, the employee’s request must be for purposes of investigating the possibility of, or taking legal action regarding, discrimination involving pay or benefits.
The law, understandably, does not require an employee, or former employee, to provide the information requested – that’s up to the employee. However, the prohibition on employer reprisals applies regardless of whether the questioned coworker (or former coworker) actually responds to the request.
For New Jersey employers, this means that “salary secrecy” policies, i.e., those that require that compensation information be treated as confidential, should be reviewed for compliance with the new law. And even for employers outside of New Jersey, such policies, depending on how they are drafted, may raise concerns under existing National Labor Relations Act law. In short, the passage of this new New Jersey law suggests the time may be ripe for a general review of existing policies and practices regarding employee sharing of compensation and related information.