A6075/S1 guarantees workers the right to share salary information without penalty, which creates wage transparency and makes detection of wage discrimination easier. The bill also closes loopholes in current law, clarifies that comparisons can be made between employees in offices in the same county, and discourages employers from unfair pay practices by increasing damages to prevailing litigants for willful discrimination.
WHAT WILL THE NEW YORK EQUAL PAY (A6075/S1) BILL DO?
- Close a loophole in New York’s equal pay law that allows employers to justify paying female employees less. The legislation amends the state’s Labor Law to revise the “any other factor other than sex” affirmative defense that employers use when justifying pay differentials to “a bona fide factor other than sex” that is not based on or derived from a sex-based wage differential and is job-related and consistent with “business necessity.”
- Provides that employees who work for the same employer but at different workplaces must be paid equal wages, provided those workplaces are in the same geographical region (no bigger than a county). Currently only employees at the same physical location have to be paid the same wage.
- Outlaws workplace wage secrecy policies. Provides that employers may not “prohibit an employee from inquiring about, discussing, or disclosing the wages” of an employee, but allows employers to establish reasonable workplace and workday limitations on inquiries, discussion, or disclosure and including prohibiting employees from discussing or disclosing the wages of another employee without that employee’s permission.
- Increase damages available to a prevailing litigant to 300% of unpaid wages. Provides for liquidated damages up to 300% of unpaid wages in administrative actions and up to 300% of unpaid wages in court actions for willful violations of equal pay laws.
HOW DOES THE GENDER WAGE GAP HARM WOMEN, FAMILIES, AND NEW YORK?
More than fifty years after the Equal Pay Act became law, American women working full-time are paid just 78 cents to the dollar compared to their male counterparts. A significant wage gap also persists throughout New York.
- Although the statewide wage gap of 84% is smaller than the national average, female workers in Western New York earn 77%, for example.[i] African American women and Latinas earn 66% and 55% respectively.[ii]
- Due to the wage gap, full-time working women in New York collectively lose more than $23,000,000,000 each year. If the wage gap is closed, working women in New York and their families would have enough money for more than a year’s worth of food; 4 months of mortgage and utility payments; 8 additional months of rent; 3 extra years of family health insurance premiums; or more than 2,000 gallons of gas.[i]
- Working families in New York are especially harmed by the gender wage gap. Women head more than 1,000,000 households in New York,[i] and more than 63% of working mothers in New York are primary breadwinners or co-breadwinners.
HOW DOES WAGE SECRECY IMPACT THE WAGE GAP?
Pay Confidentiality Policies Are a Key Contributor to the Wage Gap and Wage Discrimination. These policies are widespread in the private sector, and the negative impact on earnings, especially women’s wages. If a worker does not know how much colleagues earn, it is difficult to determine whether there is pay discrimination. Such pay secrecy policies enable employers to discriminate against employees without their knowledge.
- According to a 2010 study, 61% of private sector employees reported that they are discouraged or prohibited from discussing wage and salary information.[i]
- The Supreme Court of the United States has recognized that “[f]ear of retaliation is the leading reason why people stay silent instead of voicing their concerns about bias and discrimination.”[ii]
- After nearly two decades of employment, it took an anonymous note for Lilly Ledbetter to find out that she was earning significantly less than male colleagues performing the same job.[iii] Had an anti-retaliation bill been in effect, Ledbetter might have discovered the wage discrimination far earlier, and she could have sought a remedy without fear of recrimination.
- Pay transparency can help to narrow the wage gap. For example, the gender wage gap in the federal government, where wages are more transparent, is only 11%, as compared to 23% for the economy as a whole.[iv]
Facts compiled with the assistance of A Better Balance and the New York Civil Liberties Union.
If you have questions about the bill or how to take action, please contact Beverly Neufeld or Abby Grimshaw at email@example.com.