(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Annette Quijano, Elizabeth Maher Muoio, Jamel Holley and Joann Downey to prohibit the New Jersey Economic Development Authority from providing financial assistance to businesses that engage in gender discrimination was approved Wednesday by the General Assembly.

The bill (A-3832) requires the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to adopt rules and regulations requiring that a business that receives financial assistance from the authority is not to engage in gender discrimination against workers employed at the business.

“Our economic incentive programs are an extension of our values as a state,” said Quijano (D-Union). “This bill would say, resoundingly, that New Jersey does not support discriminatory pay practices and that any company that wants to use economic assistance from taxpayers must conduct business in a way that is fair to all employees. This is about ensuring equal rights.”

“New Jersey should never endorse gender pay discrimination,” said Muoio (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “This bill makes clear to businesses that if they want financial assistance from taxpayers, they cannot engage in gender discrimination against workers. This is all about fairness and doing the right thing by both taxpayers and workers.”

“Currently, in the United States, women earn approximately 21 percent less than men. Workers deserve fair compensation regardless of gender,” said Holley (D-Union). “Businesses that contribute to this unjust disparity should not benefit from the state’s generosity.”

“The fact that this is even necessary is upsetting, but sadly gender discrimination in the workforce continues to be a reality for many women,” said Downey (D-Monmouth). “This sends a clear message to businesses in the state that engaging in such practices will have consequences.”

A business that receives financial assistance from the authority is to submit written documentation, as determined by the authority, verifying that the business is not engaging in gender discrimination.

The bill defines “gender discrimination” as an employment practice in which a business discriminates between its employees on the basis of sex by paying a rate of compensation, including benefits, to employees of one sex less than the rate paid to employees of the other sex for substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility.

The bill was approved 50-13-3 and now awaits further consideration by the Senate.