April 4, 2017

Assembly Passes Pay Equity Package to Close the Pay Gap

In commemoration of National Equal Pay Day, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Labor Committee Chair Michelle Titus today announced the passage of several measures to close the pay gap in New York State.

"For many years, the Assembly Majority has championed efforts to end the disparity and ensure equal pay for equal work between men and women," said Heastie. "Putting families first in this state means advocating for public policies that empower women to achieve and receive the fair compensation they deserve."

Although laws prohibiting overt employment discrimination exist, in many instances discrimination exists in the form of pay disparities. The New York State Fair Pay Act establishes that it is an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discriminate between employees on the basis of sex, race or national origin by paying different wages for the same job. Under the bill, it is not unlawful to determine pay by a legitimate seniority or merit system, performance evaluation system, geographic differences, or differences in training and experience (A.4696, Titus).

"The workplace is one of the main battlegrounds in the fight for women's equality," said Titus. "Earlier this year, we proudly joined women across the nation in supporting the Women's March on Washington to raise the profile of social issues like these that are critical to ensuring the health and well-being of women everywhere."

Other legislation establishes a statewide policy of compensating employees in state service equally for work of equal value by eliminating wage inequality in job titles and position classifications which have been segregated by sex, race or national origin (A.658, Rosenthal).

"Imagine our society and our workplaces without women," said Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal. "Across occupations and industries, women are paid less than their male colleagues. Even 170 years after the Seneca Falls Convention in New York State, the first women's rights convention, women continue to suffer harassment on the job, a significant pay gap and a glass ceiling. Once and for all we must say 'no' to the continued shortchanging of women."

Another measure would require the president of the civil service commission to study and publish a report evaluating wage disparities among public employers (A.2549, Lifton). The study would examine wage disparities related to job titles based on sex, race or national origin of the employee. A report on the findings would then be required to be submitted to legislative leaders and the executive.

"It is clear that in many ways, the glass ceiling is still intact and that we have more work to do to achieve true women's equality," said Assemblymember Barbara Lifton. "Our daughters and granddaughters deserve to inherit a future where the wages and salaries they earn will reflect their invaluable contributions to our families and to this state."

Also included in the Assembly's pay equity legislation is a proposal to provide public employees with a mechanism to enforce their right to equal pay for equal work. The bill establishes a private right of action for public employees who have experienced pay discrimination based on sex, race or national origin (A.2425, Simotas).

"We owe it to future generations to do everything in our power to finally close the wage gap in New York State," said Assemblymember Simotas. "Like so many others calling for an end to the disparity, I want my four-year old daughter to grow up knowing that no matter what career she chooses, her talents and contributions will be worth just as much and be just as meaningful as those of her male peers."