Gov. Christie First Term Report CardWomen's RightsC

In the Doctor’s Office

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

Every year, Gov. Christie has had an opportunity to stand up for women’s health, and every year — actually, twice in 2010 — he has turned it down, most notably by rejecting a $7.5 million item in the budget for women’s health at family planning centers.19 The absence of this funding has forced at least six clinics to close or fire staff, and it prevents women from obtaining low-cost, critical health screenings such as pap smears and breast exams. Exacerbating the situation, Gov. Christie has also rejected federal funding that matches New Jersey’s expenditure on family planning.

In January 2014, Gov. Christie signed legislation (A2022) requiring insurance companies to cover breast exams and other testing, with new requirements that mammogram reports include information on breast density.20 Similarly, he signed a bill (S374) exempting cosmetic expenses related to breast reconstruction surgery from sales tax. He also signed a bill outlawing the genital mutilation of females under the age of 18 (S1171), a law that strengthens the human rights of young women in New Jersey.

In the Workplace

Although most first-time mothers work while pregnant,21 pregnancy discrimination still occurs.22 In January 2014, Gov. Christie signed a bill (S2995) that adds pregnancy as a protected class under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination. Thanks to this bill, New Jersey employers must make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers without retaliation against women who ask for accommodations.23

Gov. Christie also approved a number of measures aimed at closing the pay gap between men and women. He signed legislation that makes it illegal for employers to punish people for sharing salary information and strengthens protections against retaliation for workers who report discriminatory pay practices (A2648).24

At the same time, he also vetoed a critical piece of a pay discrimination package, the Wage Transparency Act (A2649), which would have required contractors to submit salary breakdowns to the state government and given the public an opportunity to see whether their tax dollars are supporting companies that may discriminate. Gov. Christie claimed it would add “senseless bureaucracy”25 — however, this would have improved existing data collection practices. Adding two lines on a form to collect race and gender information is not an onerous requirement, but another form of transparent, good governance that would lead to greater equality.26

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Related Content

19 Marty, Robin, “Chris Christie Vetoes Family Funding for the Fifth Time,” RH Reality Check, July 2, 2013, http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2013/07/02/chris-christie-vetoes-family-planning-funding-for-the-fifth-time/

20 A2022, Session 215 of the New Jersey Legislature, 2012, ftp://www.njleg.state.nj.us/20122013/A2500/2022_I1.HTM

21 Laughlin, Lynda. “Maternity Leave and Employment Patterns of First-Time Mothers: 1961-2008,” Household Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau, Department of Commerce. Oct 2011. https://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/p70-128.pdf

22 Salihu, H.M., Myers, J., August, E.M. “Pregnancy in the Workplace,” Oxford Journal of Occupational Medicine, Vol 62, pp 88-97, http://occmed.oxfordjournals.org/content/62/2/88.long

23 S2995 1R, Session 215 of the New Jersey Legislature, 2013, http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2012/Bills/S3000/2995_R1.HTM

24 Covert, Bryce, “Chris Christie Signs Equal Pay Bill into Law,” ThinkProgress.com, Aug. 30, 2013, http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/08/30/2559091/chris-christie-signs-equal-pay-law/

25 Office of the Governor, Statement accompanying veto of S1932, New Jersey Legislature, Sept. 24, 2012, http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2012/Bills/A3000/2649_V1.HTM

26 Orzech, Kurt, “NJ Assembly Passes Equal Pay bills Felled by Christie veto,” Law360.com, June 30, 2013, http://www.law360.com/articles/451867/nj-assembly-passes-equal-pay-bills-felled-by-christie-veto

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