Cuomo signs pay equity legislation

Stephon Johnson | 7/18/2019, 1:37 p.m.
New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo used the U.S. Women’s World Cup ticker-tape parade to announce pay equity legislation.

New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo used the U.S. Women’s World Cup ticker-tape parade to announce pay equity legislation.

Last week, the governor signed legislation that expands equal pay laws to ban unequal pay on the basis of a protected class for all similar work (S5248B/A8093A) and forbids employers from asking prospective employees about their salary history (S6549/A5308B). As part of his 2019 Women’s Justice Agenda, this adds to Cuomo’s legislative victories which include rape shield protections for sex trafficking victims and enhancing workplace sexual harassment laws.

Under bill S5248B/A8093A, protected classes include age, race, creed, color, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, sex or military status.

Bill S.6549/A5308B would prohibit employers from asking prospective employees for their wage and salary history for job interviews, applications, offers and/or promotions. The bill would also prohibit employer retaliation against a prospective employee based on their refusal to provide said salary and wage history.

New York State Senators Alessandra Biaggi and David Carlucci co-sponsored the Senate versions of the bill.

“There is no rationale why women should not get paid what men get paid,” stated Cuomo. “These are women’s soccer players, they play the same game as the men’s soccer players, and they play it better, so if there is any economic rationale, the men should get paid less than the women. New York will continue to lead the way forward and stand in solidarity with women and girls in every corner of this state. By signing this legislation, we are not only doing the right thing, we are also doing the moral thing and equal pay for equal work is now the law in the State of New York.”

New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins also compared the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team’s payday to the men’s to make her point about equal pay in New York.

“As we honor the United States Women’s National Soccer Team for its World Cup victory, we are reminded that these champions do not make the same that the U.S. Men’s Team makes, despite winning back-to-back World Cup championships,” stated Stewart-Cousins. “The wage gap in New York is just as glaring with white women earning 89 cents to each dollar earned by men, a gap that is even more pronounced among women of color, with Black women earning 63 cents and Latinas earning 54 cents for every dollar.

“The bills signed into law today will right this wrong by protecting employees from wage discrimination and ending the practice of salary history requests,” concluded Stewart-Cousins.

In 2017, Cuomo called on the New York State Department of Labor to report on the gender pay gap in New York and come back to him with recommendations to rectify the situation. As a result of the DOL’s recommendations, Cuomo introduced a bill expanding his executive powers to ban public and private employers in New York from asking potential employees their salary history.

“From soccer fields to board rooms, Americans across working sectors are standing up for their right to equal compensation and today New York is answering that call,” said Biaggi in a statement. “Every New Yorker deserves equal pay for equal work regardless of race, sexual orientation, disability, or however they choose to identify. My bill serves to address the systemic issue of pay-discrimination plaguing marginalized communities by expanding our equal pay laws to prohibit pay-discrimination based on any protected-class status.”

“Women should not be making 80 cents or less for every dollar a man is paid for the same work,” added Carlucci in a statement. “The first step in closing the gender pay gap is ending the salary history question so low salaries do not follow women throughout their career.”