Thursday, May 4, 2017


City takes major step toward achieving pay equity for women and people of color

  In a milestone achievement in the fight for pay equity, Mayor Bill de Blasio today signed Intro. 1253 prohibiting all employers from inquiring about a prospective employee’s salary history. Sponsored by Public Advocate Letitia James, this bill expands upon the Mayor’s Executive Order 21 signed in November 2016 to include both private and public employers. The Mayor was joined by senior Administration officials, elected officials and advocates. 

“It is unacceptable that we’re still fighting for equal pay for equal work. The simple fact is that women and people of color are frequently paid less for the same work as their white, male counterparts, said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This Administration has taken bold steps to combat the forces of inequality that hold people back, and this bill builds upon the progress we have made to close the pay gap and ensure everyone is treated with the respect they deserve.” 

By restricting questions regarding an applicant’s previous compensation – which is often used as a benchmark from which to determine starting pay in a new position – employers take a vital step to stop perpetuating a cycle of suppressed wages for women and people of color within their workforce.

Intro. 1253, which goes into effect in 180 days, dictates that it is an unlawful, discriminatory practice for an employer to inquire about or rely upon the salary history of a job applicant to determine their salary amount during the hiring process, including the negotiation of a contract. An applicant’s salary history includes current or prior wage, salary, benefits or other compensation. The bill allows employers to discuss with job applicants their expectations about salary, benefits and other compensation. If an applicant, voluntarily and without prompting, discloses salary history to an employer, the employer may consider salary history in determining salary, benefits and other compensation for such applicant, and may verify that salary history.

Individuals can file a complaint with the NYC Commission on Human Rights, which has the ability to fine employers with civil penalties of up to $250,000 for willful and malicious violations of the law, and can award compensatory damages to victims, including emotional distress damages and other benefits. The Commission will also create educational materials on this protection and conduct community outreach to ensure that NYC workers’ know their rights.

“Inquiring about pay history during the hiring process often creates a cycle of inequity and discrimination in the workplace, which perpetuates lower salaries for women and people of color,” said Chair and Commissioner of the NYC Commission on Human Rights Carmelyn P. Malalis.  “By taking salary history information out of the job interview and application process, employers and job applicants can engage in robust salary negotiations focused on the applicant’s qualifications and the requirements for the job. The Commission is committed to aggressively enforce the law when it becomes effective later this year and encourages New Yorkers to come forward and seek help if they have been the victims of discrimination.”

The de Blasio Administration has made meaningful changes to improve the lives of the City’s diverse workforce, including:

·         Signing Executive Order 21, which prohibits City agencies from inquiring about the salary history of job applicants.

·         Providing six weeks of paid time off for maternity, paternity, adoption, and foster care leave, at 100 percent of salary – or up to 12 weeks total when combined with existing leave.

·         Requiring that employers with five or more employees provide Paid Sick Leave.

·         Supporting legislation that will allow Paid Sick Leave to be used for purposes of Paid Safe Leave. This amendment will ensure victims, survivors and those who are impacted by domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault offenses are able to take necessary time to rebuild their lives and seek safety while not sacrificing their paychecks or jobs.

·         Requiring employers with 20 or more employees to provide a pre-tax commuter benefits program.

·         Increasing the minimum wage to $15/hour for all City government employees and employees who provide contracted work for the City at social service organizations.

·         Settling contracts with 99 percent of the municipal workforce, compared to zero when Mayor de Blasio took office – bringing salaries for female-dominated fields like teaching and healthcare in line with salary increases previously given to other municipal workers, and providing all City employees with new 7-year contracts that included 10 percent in raises. 

·         Implementing the Freelance Isn’t Free Act, which establishes and enhances protections for freelance workers, including the right to a written contract, the right to be paid timely and in full, and right to be free from retaliation?

·          Providing Universal Pre-K for All, which has made it possible for thousands of parents to earn a living without sacrificing their children’s early education.

·         Signing into law of legislations enforced by the City’s Human Rights Commission to prohibit employers to make inquiries into credit history and into criminal history of job applicants until after a conditional offer of employment is made. The Commission has run extensive outreach on these protections as well as conducted training targeting employers and employees citywide.

·         Issuing legal enforcement guidance to clarify how the New York City Human Rights Law provides protections for individuals from discrimination based on pregnancy and gender identity and expression. 

·         Creating more family-friendly workplaces, including the creation of lactation rooms for new mothers at social service agencies across the city. 

·         Creating the first-ever Commission on Gender Equity to leverage the power of City government to expand and increase opportunity for all New Yorkers regardless of sex, gender, or sexual orientation.

·         Establishing the Office of Labor Policy and Standards at the Department of Consumer Affairs as the focal point for labor issues and workers in New York City. DCA’s OLPS enforces key municipal workplace laws, conducts original research, and develops policies that are responsive to an evolving economy and issues affecting workers in New York City, particularly people of color, women, and immigrants.

·         Establishing of the OLPS’ Paid Care Division, which is dedicated to defending the rights of paid care workers, improving the quality of paid care jobs, and strengthening the paid care system through outreach, education, complaint intake and referral, and research and policy development on worker demographics, working conditions, and industry standards.

·         Adding caregiver protections under the New York City Human Rights Law to ensure people providing care to children under the age of 18 and those caring for parents, sibling, spouse, children of any age, grandparent, or grandchild with a disability are protected from employment discrimination, such as being terminated, demoted or denied a promotion because of their status or perceived status as a caregiver. 

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