STATEMENT OF SUPPORT
NYCLA’s Women in the Law and Labor Relations and Employment Law Committees Statement in Support of Intro. 1253
This memorandum is submitted by and on behalf of the Women in the Law Committee and Labor Relationship & Employment Law Committee (“The Committees”) of the New York County Lawyers’ Association (“NYCLA”). The Committees support the passage of Intro. 1253, which would amend New York City’s Administrative Code to prohibit an employer from inquiring about or relying on a prospective employee’s salary history (including fringe benefits) when determining the salary to offer that individual. This legislation bolsters the efforts of women, minorities, and others who are held back by a history of low pay, by allowing them to more effectively negotiate a salary in line with their skills and abilities.
Wage inequality and pay discrimination have a long history in our country, which has not been eliminated despite 50 years of litigation, policy efforts and social progress. Thus, new legislative approaches such as this proposed measure are needed to protect New Yorkers’ rights to fair pay. According to the Pew Research Center, African Americans full time earnings are just 75% of that of whites. In 2015, among full and part- time workers in the U.S., women earned only 83% of men, and the difference is even starker when one considers the gap across racial and ethnic groups. While the wage gap closed by 22 cents between white women and white men from 1980 to 2015, the wage gap between African American women and white men narrowed by only 9 cents in that same time frame (bringing relative earning to just 65 cents on the dollar). In the same vein, the wage gap between Latina women and white men narrowed by only 5 cents during that period, bringing earnings to 58 cents on the dollar.
The harm caused by pay inequity is widespread. Women are the primary breadwinner in 4 out of 10 families. One’s income affects their ability to pay for housing, healthcare, educational opportunities, and a multitude of other costs associated with living and raising a family in New York. Furthermore, lower lifetime career earnings for women translate to lower retirement earnings. Women face higher poverty rates than men throughout their lifetimes, even into retirement. Despite widespread disparate pay and the persistent impact on workers’ lives, pay discrimination is hard to detect. Employees are hesitant to share sensitive information with others, sometimes forbidden to; and thus oftentimes employees do not even realize they are being compensated less than their counterparts for equal work. Being on an equal playing field as an applicant and prospective employee to negotiate an appropriate living wage for the work to be hired for is an important step to ensure salary decisions are made based on the value of one’s work and not one’s history of being underpaid.
Recognizing that wage gaps will persist so long as previous salaries are the basis for decision-making about future earnings, many local and state governments are enacting policy initiatives similar to Intro. 1253. The state of Massachusetts enacted legislation this summer, which prohibits inquiries into previous salary. In New York, Intro. 1253 builds on Executive Order 21, signed by Mayor De Blasio in November 2016, which provides similar protections for City employees. Intro 1253 also would work in tandem with the EEOC’s proposal to include employee salary data as part of annual EEO-1 reporting requirements.
Intro. 1253 marks an important step on behalf of women, minorities, and others impacted by a history of pay inequity, and the Committees proudly issue this statement in support of this legislation.