Testimony on Senate Bill 783 (Statute of Limitations on Pay Discrimination Cases), 3/17/2014

Testimony on Senate Bill 783 (Statute of Limitations on Pay Discrimination Cases), 3/17/2014

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Good morning, Chairman, members of the community. For the record,
I’m Stephanie Riehl with the New Jersey Business & Industry
Association. On behalf of our 21,000 member companies I want to thank you
for the opportunity to speak before you today. I just wanna start out
by saying that the Business & Industry Association is certainly not opposed to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Nor are we opposed to codifying it into New Jersey’s
statute, but where we do have concerns is that, as this legislation is currently drafted,
it goes beyond the federal Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and
it’s also not consistent with a recent New Jersey Supreme Court case. So let me
explain a little. There was a 2009 Supreme Court case where the Supreme
Court held that each payment of discriminatory wages
is actionable act, but what the Court did is it limited the award of damages to two years following the filing of a lawsuit and when the Court did that, that was consistent
with the federal Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Where this bill differs is that it does not impose the same two
year cap. So the issue we have with an unlimited cap is that, without it, employers
could be forced to defend and pay claims that are 15, 20, maybe even 30 years old. Within that time, evidence gets stale, records are no longer available, and the decision
makers who set the salary in the first place may not even be still with us. They
may be the deceased. So we have spoken with the sponsor when this bill was before this Committee in the last session and we have reached out to the sponsor again and we
are respectfully requesting that the bill be amended to be consistent with the Lilly Ledbetter
Fair Pay Act and the Supreme Court case that I referenced,
which is Alexander vs. Seton Hall. So thank you for your consideration. Good morning, ladies, you said you have tried to talk to the sponsor of this in getting it more in line with the federal? Through you, Mr. Chairman, yes, Senator we have had good conversations with her. Reached out to her office as recently as last week when we saw this bill was up for a vote and I think it might just be a matter of a difference in policy opinion. Do you feel that you may be able to
work this out? ‘Cause I’ve got concerns also with it not being
the same as the federal law. Through you, again, Mr. Chairman, we intend to keep our conversations and the dialog open with her as this bill goes through the process again. We’re certainly, you know, open to suggesting language and amendments to try to make sure that
she can still achieve what she wants to without it being unduly burdensome on employers and without employers, you know, possibly having to pay 30 years worth of– worth of damages, which–
which could happen if you had an employee that started, you know, in 1975 and, you know, is now going and– and claiming that there is some kind of discriminatory treatment. I agree, Stefanie, that’s what my concern is on this bill, opening up employers to being liable for 20 years and it’s a concern of mine. So I would appreciate it if we can work that out. Thank
you.

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