NJCPA CEO & Executive Director Ralph Albert Thomas’ Statement on Senate Bill 104

 – March 5, 2018
NJCPA CEO & Executive Director Ralph Albert Thomas’ Statement on Senate Bill 104

ROSELAND, N.J. - The New Jersey Society of CPAs (NJCPA) has long supported paying people equally for the same work, without discrimination, and based entirely on merit and performance. This is especially important to the NJCPA because more than half of all those who graduate with an accounting degree are women.

The accounting profession has been a leader in providing for the advancement of women. In a nationwide survey of female employees, four accounting firms were ranked as among the top 20 as “best places to work” for women. Of the national “Big 4” accounting firms, three of them have female Chief Executive Officers (CEOs).

However, we have several concerns with the language in S104, which is up for a vote today. This legislation creates unnecessary compliance and liability burdens on our members and the broader business community. S104, as currently drafted, would make New Jersey an outlier among states and would seriously undermine New Jersey’s efforts to attract and retain business. In crafting appropriate pay equity legislation in New Jersey, we would encourage legislators and policy makers to look to recently enacted laws in California, Massachusetts and New York for guidance.

We believe that if the areas of concern outlined below are addressed, the bill would achieve its objectives without harming the business community.

  1. Back Pay and Statute of Limitations. No state has enacted a back pay recovery period as long as the limitless period New Jersey’s S104 provides for.
  2. Revised Standard of Liability. S104 significantly shifts the burden of proof to the employer. Once any pay disparity is demonstrated, an employer must prove that no part of the pay difference was due to gender.
  3. Treble Damages. S104 awards treble damages for violations of the bill, which is inconsistent with federal law. Almost no other states provide for treble damages.
  4. Reporting Requirement. S104 would require any employer entering into a contract with a public body in New Jersey to disclose to the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development the gender, race, job title, occupational category and total compensation of every employee employed in connection with the contract. This new provision will impose significant costs on New Jersey employers.Because it will be more expensive to do business in New Jersey, many employers may choose to reduce their presence in the state or to delay or to cancel hiring decisions and pay raises.

Although we share a commitment to gender equality and appreciate efforts on behalf of the issue, we cannot support S104 without amendments addressing these concerns.

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