Last November, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio issued an executive order barring city agencies from asking job candidates for their salary histories, in an effort to close gender and racial pay gaps among the roughly 300,000 people who work for the city government. While de Blasio did not have the power to impose such a ban on the private sector, the order was touted as a model for private employers to follow, and the city’s public advocate, Letitia James, submitted a bill to the city council last August that would enact a broader ban on salary histories.
According to James, that bill is now poised to pass, the Cut’s Dayna Evans reports:
James’s bill makes it illegal for businesses in both the public and private sectors from asking for salary histories from job applicants, and according to Thursday’s meeting it could pass as soon as Wednesday of next week, one day after Equal Pay Day. “Being underpaid once should not condemn you to a lifetime of inequity,” James said in her opening remarks. “This bill is not a panacea, by no means,” she said, but she acknowledged how important it was as a starting point.
James … introduced the salary-history legislation in an effort to help women start their careers on a level playing field with men. Three months later, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order enforcing that ban on city organizations. At the time he said he “believed that we could move very quickly” in achieving the same measures in the private sector.
In an op-ed at the New York Daily News last week, James laid out her case for banning salary history inquiries:
Though few hiring managers would deliberately choose to offer women less money than their male counterparts, when using salary history to determine compensation, they unintentionally preserve the status quo. Too often, women will have a lower salary history, and, therefore get a lower offer. As they move from one position to the next, they will consistently earn less than men in the same positions. …
My bill would protect 4.4 million individuals working in New York City. A number of NYC businesses, including Peeled Snacks, Majora Carter Consulting Group, Spring Bank and Kickstarter have already adopted the practice, taking a powerful step to offer equal wages for employees doing the same jobs.
If and when James’ bill passes the city council, New York will join a growing number of jurisdictions that have imposed such bans, based on the idea that it exacerbates the gender pay gap by making women who are underpaid early in their career more likely to be underpaid in the future as well. Massachusetts set off the trend last August by banning salary history requests as part of a more comprehensive pay equity law that goes into effect at the start of next year. Since the beginning of 2017, Philadelphia and Puerto Rico have passed similar bans.