Jacobs Sponsors Legislation to End Wage Discrimination

Equal pay for women should be a basic tenet of society
March 12, 2008
Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs (D-Flatbush) announced today Assembly passage of legislation – for the 11th consecutive year – she supported to help end gender-based wage discrimination in New York State.

“It’s simply unconscionable in this day and age that there would be a gender-based wage gap, but, sadly, there is,” said Jacobs. “Existing legal remedies have inadequately addressed this issue of injustice – but by making the Assembly’s legislation law, we can ensure that women and men will be equally compensated for comparable work.”

The wage gap has changed little since the federal Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963. At that time, women earned 59 cents on the dollar compared to men. As of 2005, that figure had risen to 77 cents on the dollar, showing that the gap has narrowed at the slow rate of less than a half cent per year. Historically, the wage-gap is worse for African-American women, who earn only 71 cents on the dollar, and Hispanic women, who earn a low 58 cents per dollar for comparable work. (National Organization for Women, www.now.org/issues/economic/factsheet.html (accessed February 27, 2008).)

The Assembly bills prohibit discrimination based on gender, make it easier to enforce equal pay regulations and establish a state policy of setting salaries based on comparable work. The legislation would:

  • make it discriminatory to compensate women and men differently for comparable work and extend the right of “equal pay for equal work” measured by the skill, effort and responsibility required (A.6959-A);
  • enact the New York State Fair Pay Act to address and enforce pay equity, including broadening equivalent job definitions, specifying methods to determine equivalent skill and ensuring traditional and minority jobs are not undervalued (A.2712);
  • ensure public employees – regardless of gender – are paid equally for comparable work (A.957); and
  • establish a state policy of setting salaries based on comparative value of the work (A.7407).

“Not only is the wage gap simply wrong on principle, but it’s particularly disturbing – and dangerous – because of the growing number of women who function as the heads of their households,” Jacobs said. “New York needs women to earn equal pay for equal work – it’s a matter of principle and a matter of sound economics. I strongly urge the Senate and the governor to pass these bills and sign them into law.”