Companies that bid on New Jersey state contracts would have to ensure their gender-based pay equity and job equality standards under a Democrat-backed bill that passed the state Assembly Thursday.
Assembly Bill 883 — as a part of a package of Bills aimed at combating poverty and rebuilding the state’s middle class — would require every government contract bidder to submit a gender equity report to the Division of Purchase and Property in the State Department of the Treasury.
The report would measure the extent to which men and women employees perform the same or comparable work at different rates of pay and the extent to which job titles may be predominately held by members of the same gender, according to the bill’s language.
Introduced in January, the proposed law was previously reviewed by the Assembly State and Local Government Committee and received 46-17-9 approval Thursday.
Under A883, the purchase and property division would develop a system for bidders to measure and remedy gender-based pay gaps and gender-based segregation of job titles, along with uniform reporting instructions and criteria. Bidders would also get technical assistance with the reporting, the bill said.
Bidders for emergency contracts would be exempt from the law, as would contracts paid in whole or in part by federal funds if the application of the rules would impact eligibility to receive the funds, the bill said.
Muoio and Lampitt were joined in their sponsorship by Gabriela M. Mosquera, D- Camden, John F. McKeon, D-Morris, and Mila M. Jasey, D-Essex. Muoio, Lampitt and Mosquera introduced the legislation during the last session in June, but it stalled in the Assembly State and Local Government Committee.
The proposal has drawn criticism from the New Jersey Institute for Civil Justice, which described the legislation as a “complex and intrusive legislative scheme.”
The group feels the statistics would defeat the purpose of market wages, which they say provide a measure of a particular job’s worth and encourage people to take jobs for which demand exceeds supply. The reporting requirement itself would create a “treasure trove” of data that could leave employers vulnerable to lawsuits, the group said.
The group further contends that workplace gender equality statistics reflect disparities. Education, profession, experience or hours worked are among the “countless individual, voluntary choices that add up to statistical disparities in the aggregate,” the group said.
“The reality is that the existing anti-discrimination legal framework reflects a strong social consensus against discrimination based on sex,” the NJICJ said in a statement Friday. “The attempt to further regulate employee compensation and expose employers to litigation will succeed primarily in distorting labor markets and increasing the cost and risk of hiring new employees.
Lampitt, who authored legislation requiring employers to post wage discrimination notices in the workplace, countered that the current anti-discrimination statutes aren’t focused enough on women.
“If discrimination [laws are] already on the books, then why is it still happening?” she said.
Lampitt also addressed the statistics that would be provided, noting that citizens can find out information about public entities through the state’s Open Public Records Act. She asked why the private sector’s statistics shouldn’t be publicly available as well.