TRENTON — Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (DCR) today announced that the State has entered into a Consent Decree and Order resolving allegations that AT&T violated the equal pay provisions of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD), known as the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act. The consent order follows an investigation by DCR finding probable cause that a female employee at AT&T was paid less than her male colleague who was performing a similar job in violation of the Equal Pay Act.
The Consent Decree announced today provides significant monetary relief to the complainant and also imposes broad equitable measures to ensure AT&T’s compliance with the Equal Pay Act going forward. Specifically, the Consent Decree provides for $162,500 in monetary relief to the complainant, and also requires AT&T to provide her with an immediate salary increase of more than $10,000. The settlement also requires a Compensation Study of certain AT&T employees’ salaries, monitoring of the company’s pay practices, and the development of an Equal Pay Act policy that will create a procedure to allow AT&T employees to obtain review of and redress for pay disparities. In addition, the settlement requires AT&T to pay a $10,000 penalty to DCR.
The Diane P. Allen Equal Pay Act, which Governor Murphy signed into law in 2018, is one of the nation’s strongest equal pay statutes. The New Jersey law prohibits pay discrimination against employees on the basis of race, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, or any other protected characteristic covered under the LAD. It generally prohibits an employer from paying an employee who is a member of any LAD-protected class less than what it pays an employee who is not a member of that LAD-protected class for substantially similar work. The protections afforded by New Jersey law are significantly broader than those provided by federal law, which covers only gender-based pay disparities and only requires equal pay for “equal” work, not “substantially similar” work.
“Our state takes alleged violations of the Equal Pay Act seriously, and will not stand idly by when we learn of pay discrimination,” said Attorney General Platkin. “We are committed to upholding the principles of fairness and equality in the workplace, and today’s settlement is an important step in ensuring that AT&T adheres to those basic principles. Equality in pay is not negotiable – it’s mandatory.”
“Our Equal Pay Act is one of the strongest in the country, and it is a key priority of ours to enforce the law and, in the process, address the stark pay disparities that so often harm women and people of color in the workplace,” said Division on Civil Rights Director Sundeep Iyer. “The settlement announced today underscores our resolve not just to make individual victims of pay discrimination whole, but to ensure that companies implement systemic reforms to remedy these persistent disparities.”
In the matter resolved today, DCR issued a finding of probable cause concluding that there was sufficient evidence to support a female employee’s allegation that she was paid significantly less than her male colleague even though they had similar qualifications, were performing substantially similar work, and were hired the same year. The investigation demonstrated that the complainant’s male colleague was paid a higher starting salary based on his salary prior to joining AT&T – a practice that perpetuates past discrimination and, as such, is prohibited by the LAD. This salary discrepancy continued throughout the complainant’s employment at AT&T.
In addition to AT&T agreeing to pay $162,500 in monetary relief for the complainant, the consent order announced today requires AT&T to take the following steps:
- Hire an independent third party to conduct a study of compensation equity within AT&T’s “Threat Analytics” unit, which was the unit in which the complainant was employed, and correct and resolve any pay disparities identified by the analysis for New Jersey-based employees.
- Adopt an Equal Pay Act policy for NJ employees that, among other things, sets forth a procedure for employees to file a complaint regarding suspected pay discrimination and seek a review and redress of compensation disparities.
- Review and revise its written policies and procedures to ensure compliance with the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and the Equal Pay Act.
- Provide training on its Equal Pay Act policy to all supervisors, managers, third-party agencies, and other employees who handle equal-pay and HR functions in New Jersey.
- Provide DCR with regular reports concerning complaints by any New Jersey-based employee regarding any claim of disparate pay.
- Provide an increase in complainant’s compensation going forward to address equal pay disparities.
- Make a $10,000 payment to DCR, serving as a penalty and payment for administrative costs related to the investigation.
The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights enforces the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, the New Jersey Family Leave Act, and the Fair Chance in Housing Act, and works to prevent, eliminate, and remedy discrimination and bias-based harassment in employment, housing, and places of public accommodation throughout New Jersey.
DCR has issued guidance on the Diane P. Allen Equal Pay Act. To read the guidance, please visit https://www.nj.gov/oag/dcr/downloads/030220-Equal-Pay-Act-Guidance-Appendices-Only.pdf. Anyone who believes they are the victim of pay discrimination in violation of the Equal Pay Act or who believes that their rights under the LAD, the Fair Chance Housing Act, or the Family Leave Act have been violated can file a complaint with DCR by visiting https://bias.njcivilrights.gov/ or calling 1-833-NJDCR4U (833-653-2748).