Photo Courtesy of Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office
This bill expands upon the mayor’s Executive Order 21 signed in November 2016 to include both private and public employers.
By Forum Staff
Mayor Bill de Blasio recently signed into law a bill prohibiting all employers from inquiring about a prospective employee’s salary history.
According to the administration, the bill expands upon the Mayor’s Executive Order 21 signed in November 2016 to include both private and public employers.
“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,” de Blasio said last Thursday. “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, de Blasio noted.
The new law, 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.
“This law is a major step toward achieving pay equity, particularity for women,” said Public Advocate Letitia James, the bill’s sponsor. “By prohibiting employers from asking about salary history during the hiring process, we will ensure that being underpaid once does not condemn anyone to a lifetime of inequity. I’m grateful to Mayor de Blasio and members of the City Council as well as advocates and leaders across the country for supporting this historic initiative. Together, we will keep up the fight for fairness and make ‘equal pay for equal work’ a reality.”
The administration also noted that individuals can file a complaint with the City 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.