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New Jersey Equal Pay Attorneys
Welcome to Castronovo & McKinney
Castronovo & McKinney’s New Jersey equal pay attorneys handle cases on behalf of employees and individuals who have experienced wage discrimination in the workplace. This commitment has earned us a reputation as one of the leading plaintiffs’ employment discrimination firms in New Jersey. Since 2006, regional and statewide publications have consistently listed the lawyers at Castronovo & McKinney in various top ten lists including Super Lawyers and Corp International magazine.
Gender-based pay discrimination is simply unacceptable in today’s workplace. For a free consultation with an experienced wage discrimination lawyer, contact Castronovo & McKinney LLC. Located in Morristown, N.J., we’ve helped hundreds of employees state-wide with their employment law needs and focus on discrimination cases involving wage and equal pay. Contact us today for a free completely confidential consultation about your potential case.
Wage discrimination is illegal in New Jersey. If your rights have been violated you may be entitled to compensation.
Wage Discrimination in New Jersey
Why Is There a Lingering Wage Gap in New Jersey?
Over the years, various theories have come and gone as to why women are paid less than men. For example, in the past, many people (mostly men) argued that women often quit work to raise children. That lack of experience, they insisted, explained the wage gap. But not all women leave the workforce to have children. Furthermore, the ones that do often only take a few months off, at most.
The current thinking, which explains New Jersey Executive Order No. 1 and some similar efforts, focuses on salary history. Through no fault of their own, many women lack effective salary negotiating skills early in their careers. That’s especially true if there are additional racial or cultural barriers or stereotypes. As a result, entry-level women often receive less money than entry-level men.
Over time, there is a multiplying effect. Assume John and Sarah work in basically the same position for the exact same employer. John earns $1,000 and Sarah earns $900. They each get three 10 percent raises. John’s salary goes from $1,000 to $1,100 to $1,210; Sarah’s salary goes from $900 to $990 to $1,090.
When they leave the company, potential employers conclude that Sarah is not as good a worker as John. Therefore, they pay her less, and the cycle continues.
Can I Sue My New Jersey Employer?
Gender-based pay discrimination claims in New Jersey usually involve either the federal Equal Pay Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, or the New Jersey Equal Pay Act. The choice of statutory authority has a considerable bearing on the case.
All three of these laws have essentially the same elements. To establish a preliminary claim for relief, the plaintiff must show:
- Covered Employer: Some laws only apply to companies over a certain size. Fifty workers is a very common cutoff. The nature of the workers matters as well. No one is exactly sure whether independent contractors and paid family members really count as “workers” in this context.
- Substantially Similar: New Jersey courts look beyond job titles to determine if two positions are more or less the same. Job duties, both the formal description and the informal responsibilities, are the biggest factor. Courts may also consider geographic location. For example, it may be acceptable to pay remote workers less than onsite workers.
- Lower Gender-Based Pay: A straightforward statistical analysis usually suffices. The plaintiff need not prove that all men received more money than all The proof only applies to the parties in the lawsuit.
If the plaintiff does not have at least some evidence on all these points, a judge may throw it out of court after a motion to dismiss or a motion for summary judgement.
The NJEPA has two key advantages. First, the plaintiff need only prove that she received less money than one male employee. That’s easier to prove, and requires less effort, than a general statistical comparison. Second, the New Jersey Equal Pay Act contains some very strong anti-retaliation provisions.
The federal Equal Pay Act does not require claimants to file complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission before they file civil lawsuits. Moreover, the statute of limitations is quite long in EPA cases (two years for non-willful violations and three years is the violation was willful). However, damages are usually limited to the lost wages and any other direct economic losses.
Title VII claimants are entitled to damages for pain and suffering. In many cases, these damages could be substantial. Furthermore, under the Civil Rights Act, plaintiffs need only prove discrimination as opposed to intentional discrimination. The biggest drawback is the statute of limitations. After the EEOC issues a right to sue letter, workers have only 180 days to file a claim.
What Are Some Possible Defenses in New Jersey?
Employers are quick to point out certain sections of the Congressional Record where lawmakers clearly stated that pay discrimination actions should involve intentional discrimination, in most cases. Many New Jersey judges place a great deal of stock in legislative intent. Therefore, this presumption is hard to overcome. Fortunately, it only applies in a few cases.
A merit-based compensation system is probably the most common defense. Most statutes do not define this phrase. So, New Jersey courts have generally approved any structured system which uses predetermined criteria. The same rules must apply to all workers.
Furthermore, courts have also generally held that the test is not outcome-determinative. In other words, a merit system is not illegal just because it causes gender pay discrepancy. There must be at least some discriminatory intent.
Plaintiffs cannot use indirect evidence to establish intent. Assume a company only promotes men or only allows women to work in certain positions. That discrimination, while illegal, is irrelevant for equal pay purposes. Particularly in Title VII cases, many courts almost require a “smoking gun” to find discrimination in these matters.
Finally, knowledge of inequity is not enough. Even if the employer knows that its pay system is gender biased, the plaintiff may not have a valid claim. In one famous case, the Supreme Court ruled that a system that directed 97 percent of benefits to men was not discriminatory.
“My experience with Castronovo & McKinney Attorney’s Office has been outstanding. Tom and his staff understand the law very well. They are quick to return calls, take the initiative, and explain things in a way I can understand. From start to finish Tom was there to help me out every step of the way with our case. I am glad to have Tom and his team on my side. I simply cannot thank them enough!”
“Tom McKinney is an outstanding and extremely knowledgeable employment attorney. He took the time to speak to me and reassure me. Mr. McKinney had my best interest at heart and I would highly recommend his firm. If I could give more than 5 stars I would. Professional, knowledgeable and caring. Top notch firm.”
“I was searching for an attorney with a great reputation in representing me in my case. After reading through all the positive reviews of Castronovo & McKinney, I requested a consultation with this firm. Tom responded quickly, and my experience so far has been great! Tom has been prompt with communication and keeping me up to date. He is honest, knowledgeable, professional, and always well prepared. I am in good hands, and it is very comforting!”
“Tom and his entire team were amazing during my entire lawsuit. Tom is extremely approachable and easy to talk to. It felt like I was sitting next to a friend during the long depositions and meetings, which made it a much more “bearable” process. His staff was SO nice and easy to talk to. Overall, the experience was just really positive and I was very happy with the outcome. I would HIGHLY recommend them.”