April 29, 2009

Assembly Passes Pay Equity Legislative Package

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Assembly Labor Committee Chair Susan John and Assembly Task Force on Women's Issues Chair Barbara Lifton announced that in recognition of National Equal Pay Day, the Assembly has passed a legislative package aimed at pay equity. Today's action marks the 12th consecutive year of the Assembly's commitment to end pay discrimination in the workplace.

"The wage disparity between women and men in New York State is startling and unjustifiable, especially when you consider the overwhelming number of women in the workplace today that have comparable education, skills and experiences to their male counterparts," said Silver (D-Manhattan). "As we commemorate National Pay Equity Day, it is crucial that we work to correct the injustices associated with pay inequity to ensure that these discriminatory wage practices end now."

The National Committee on Pay Equity found that the median salary of women working full-time was 78 percent of men's median income in 2007. This shows a narrowing of the wage gap by less than half a percent per year since the Federal Pay Equity Act was signed in 1963. Over a working lifetime, this wage disparity costs the average woman an estimated $700,000 to $2 million, not including the negative impact this disparity has on both Social Security and pension benefits for women.

"Pay equity has not been universally achieved in our state, and present law does not adequately address the issue," said John (D-Rochester). "At our Legislative hearings, we consistently hear testimony from women performing work equal to male counterparts but are paid less for their labor."

"Extensive research by the Cornell University Institute for Women and Work shows a significant distance that women still need to travel to achieve economic equality with men," said Lifton (D-Ithaca). "Working women both need and support equal pay legislation. I am proud of the Assembly's long-standing commitment to pay-equity."

The highlight of the Assembly's four-bill package is the New York State Fair Pay Act that would ensure pay differentiation is not based on a person's sex, national origin or race (A.3911/John). The other bills would implement a state policy of equal compensation for work of comparable worth for state employees (A.1119/Destito), make discriminatory salary practices unlawful - especially in traditionally female-dominated occupations (A.2351/Lifton), and prohibit public employers from compensating employees of opposite sexes differently for work that is of comparable worth (A.6712/Rosenthal).