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Chris Christie

New Jersey governor Chris Christie (R) signed a bill aiming to combat wage discrimination into law on Thursday, in a move that could have a major impact on the 2016 presidential race. The bill prohibits salary secrecy for workers who chose to disclose job information such as title, compensation, and benefits to other employees in attempts to reveal unfair wages.

The new law makes it illegal for employers to penalize employees for disclosing such information to other employees or organizations. Think Progress reports, “Nearly half of all workers are either forbidden or strongly discouraged from sharing that information with each other, making it extremely difficult for women and other groups to root out discrimination.”

While the average wage gap for women in New Jersey is equivalent to the national average, New Jersey minorities fare worse according to a 2011 study. The study found that New Jersey ranked 26th in the country in wage equity, with women making just under 78 cents for every dollar men earn. The nationwide average stands at 77 cents. African-American women in New Jersey earn only 58 cents on every dollar, however, and Hispanic women earn only an average of 43 cents for every dollar men earn, worse than in any other state in the nation.

State Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D), a sponsor of the equal pay bill, said on Thursday, “Unfortunately, we know all too well that gender wage discrimination is alive and well in the 21st century.” Lampitt added, “Hopefully by empowering employees with knowledge of their rights and holding employers more accountable, we can chip away the remaining fragments of the glass ceiling.”

The New Jersey bill parallels the Paycheck Fairness Act, which has been repeatedly introduced in Congress, but failed in the Senate when Republicans unanimously voted down the opportunity to debate the bill.

Christie has long been rumored to harbor presidential ambitions. A recent Quinnipiac poll revealed Christie would be a formidable competitor against Democratic favorite and frontrunner Hillary Clinton in 2016.

If Christie runs for president in 2016, he’ll certainly have to face questions from his own party on certain policies he has implemented in New Jersey. Christie has been known to break from right-wing principles now and then; from praising the president’s response to Hurricane Sandy, to passing gun reform laws in opposition to Republican friendly pro-gun groups, to now signing legislation to move New Jersey one step closer to fair wages for women and minorities, Christie would have much to answer for in a Republican primary. Were he to win the nomination, however, having signed this bill into law could be a powerful argument that could help close the gender gap that helped President Obama defeat Mitt Romney in the 2012 election.

H/T: Think Progress

Photo: Marissa Babin via Flickr.com

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