Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today advanced legislation to prohibit all employers, public and private, who do business in New York State, from asking prospective employees about their salary history and compensation. This legislation, advanced on Equal Pay Day, puts New York on track to close the gender wage gap. The Governor also released the Department of Labor’s report and recommendations to close the gender pay gap in New York State. These actions build on the Governor’s record of working to close the gender wage gap and advancing women’s rights and opportunities. New York currently has the narrowest wage gap in the nation, with women earning the equivalent of 89 cents to a man’s dollar. This uniquely positions New York to more quickly close the gender wage gap.
“New York is the birthplace of the women’s rights movement, from Seneca Falls to suffrage, and that fight continues today as we take aggressive steps to close the gender wage gap,” Governor Cuomo said. “The gender pay gap exists across the economic spectrum, across all industries, and can follow women throughout their entire careers. By banning salary history, we can break the weight of this unfair, unequal cycle and work to achieve fair pay for all women in this state.”
“As co-chairs of the NYS Pay Equity Study, Commissioner Reardon and I heard the voices of countless women who get up every day, put their heart and soul into their jobs, and at the end of the day still earn less than men,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “The fact that the wage gap for women of color and Latinas is even wider, makes this reality even more shameful. Although New York leads the nation in terms of equal pay, the gap still exists. This is unacceptable and New York will not rest until women achieve full equality. That’s why I’m proud we are taking this step to ensure that women are not hostage to their prior wages when applying for their next jobs.”
“I thank the Governor for the opportunity to study this critical issue,” said Commissioner Reardon. “It’s been a gratifying and illuminating experience and I hope the work we’ve done will contribute to a fairer and brighter future for women and girls everywhere. There’s a long road ahead, but we’ve taken the first step towards eliminating the wage gap for good.”
This new legislation builds on two executive orders signed by the Governor last year to eliminate the wage gap by prohibiting state entities from evaluating candidates based on wage history and requiring state contractors to disclose data on the gender, race and ethnicity of employees – leveraging taxpayer dollars to drive transparency and advance pay equity statewide. Today’s legislation builds on legislative efforts to address the issue and broadens the scope of Executive Order #161 to encompass all employers, not just state entities, in order to break the cycle of unfair, unequal compensation.
In 2017, Governor Cuomo directed the Department of Labor to study the causes, scope and economic impact of the gender pay gap in New York State and issue policy recommendations to help close it. The study is co-chaired by Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul and State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon. As part of the study, the Department of Labor conducted pay equity hearings in New York City, Syracuse, Long Island and Buffalo to solicit testimony identifying specific causes of the gender wage gap and suggestions on ways in which the wage gap can be closed, either in its entirety, or in particular industries.
The report, available here, outlines the state of the gender pay gap in New York, including its scope across the economic spectrum and throughout each regions of the state. In New York, women earn the equivalent of 89 cents to each dollar earned by men, the narrowest wage gap of any state in the nation and higher than the national average of 80 cents. However, the gap is substantially wider for women of color in New York as compared to White, non-Hispanic men. Black or African American women are paid the equivalent of 64 cents on the dollar and Hispanic and Latina women are paid 55 cents on the dollar. Among other findings, the study determined the largest difference between female and male median earnings in the finance, insurance and real estate industries.
The report also outlines some of the causes of the wage gap, including the “sticky floor,” a term that refers to a wide range of roadblocks that prevent women from rising beyond the lowest rungs of the career ladder.
The report proposes a series of policy recommendations to close the wage gap, including launching statewide public education campaigns on the breadth of career opportunities, salary negotiation and financial literacy, expanding access to child care and family leave, increasing career mentoring for young women and improving data and transparency on job titles, pay and benefits. In addition, the report recommends instituting employee scheduling regulations and eliminating the subminimum wage for tipped workers, two initiatives the Governor has already directed the Department of Labor to explore.
Chief among the report’s policy recommendations is to institute a salary history ban that prohibits all employers, public and private, who do business in New York from asking prospective employees about their salary history and compensation. If women are already being paid less for working the same jobs and being just as productive as men, this will halt the compounding nature of the gender wage gap. Today’s legislation accepts and advances that recommendation.
Dina Bakst, Co-Founder & Co-President, A Better Balance, said, “ABB applauds the Governor for continuing to lead and expand on his commitment to women’s equality. By advancing salary history ban legislation and issuing other key policy recommendations, informed by pay equity hearings held across New York State, the Cuomo Administration is building on its promise to ensure that women, especially those with the fewest resources, earn the fair and equal wages they deserve.”
Beverly Neufeld, President, PowHer New York, said, “Thanks to Governor Cuomo’s ongoing leadership, New York has made great strides in strengthening equal pay protections for women in New York. While our state has the smallest wage gap in the nation, there is still a lot of work to be done. PowHer New York applauds the Governor for taking this next major step toward eliminating the wage and opportunity gap and is committed to advancing these recommendations to create economic equality for all women.”
Merble Reagon, Executive Director, Women’s Center for Education and Career Advancement, said, “On this Equal Pay Day 2018, we applaud the Governor’s progressive actions on behalf of all women across the State of New York. This is a unique opportunity for New York State to lead the country in addressing the multiple barriers that stand in the way of all women earning the self-sufficiency wages that will support them and their families. In particular, it is women who are single mothers, maintaining households alone and/or women of color who know that it is largely inadequate and unequal wages, not inadequate work effort that characterizes their economic poverty.”
Cynthia Herriott, Vice President of Public Policy, American Association of University Women of New York State, said, “The American Association of University Women of New York State, continues to play a critical leadership role in promoting equity and education for women and girls. The new bill introduced by Governor Cuomo regarding the salary history ban is an essential start in the fight for Pay Equity. We call on the NYS Legislature to pass it this session.”
Michele Johnson, Vice President, YWCAs of New York State, Inc., said, “YWCAs of NYS commend Governor Cuomo for maintaining attention to the critical issue of pay equity. It is one of many factors that contribute to unacceptably high rates of poverty of female-headed households and an issue at the core of YWCA work throughout the state, particularly in Upstate NY where gender pay inequity is greatest. For women of color, a primary constituency of YWCAs, the issue is most severe and therefore even more important for them that we have the facts and testimony provided in the Governor’s report. Such data is invaluable in fighting poverty and working to close the ongoing gender inequities that continue to stunt women’s achievements.”