April 11, 2011

Assembly Passes Legislation To End Pay Discrimination

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Labor Committee Chair Keith Wright and Task Force on Womenís Issues Chair Ellen Jaffee announced that the Assembly passed a legislative package today aimed at ending pay discrimination in the workplace. This package was taken up in recognition of the 15th annual National Equal Pay Day, observed to acknowledge how far into 2011 women must work to earn what men earned in 2010.

"With the overwhelming number of women in the workplace that have the same education, skills and experience as their male counterparts, the fact that women earn 77 percent of their male counterparts is startling and unjustifiable," said Silver. "As we commemorate National Pay Equity Day, it is critical that we continue to work on correcting the injustices associated with pay inequity and put an end to unfair and discriminatory wage practices now."

The National Committee on Pay Equity found the median salary of women working full-time was 77 percent of menís median income in 2009. 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 the difference also has on both Social Security and pension benefits for women.

"Despite the implementation of the Federal Pay Equity Act nearly fifty years ago, pay equity has not been universally achieved in our state," said Wright (D-Harlem). "Women still arenít getting paid as much as men, African-Americans still arenít getting paid as much as white Americans and countless immigrant groups find it impossible to climb the pay-scale ladder. With this legislation, the New York State Assembly ends this sad inequity once and for all."

"Jobs traditionally held by women still pay less than those typically held by men, and when you examine the discrepancies between men and women of color, the rates are even more alarming," said Jaffee (D-Suffern). "In 2008, African American women earned 68 percent of the median income for men, and Latinas earned 58 percent of the median income of Latino men. This is unacceptable and we must do what we can to put an end to this disparity."

The legislative package includes the New York State Fair Pay Act, which would ensure that pay differentiation is not based on a personís sex, race or national origin (A.6130/Wright). Other measures in the package would: