New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday announced the introduction of a bill that would ban all public and private employers who do business in the state from asking job candidates about their prior compensation. The legislation, advanced on Equal Pay Day, coincided with the release of a report (pdf) from the state’s Department of Labor on the status of the gender pay gap in New York and how to close it. Banning salary history questions on job applications is just one of the reports wide-ranging policy recommendations:
This new legislation builds on two executive orders signed by the Governor last year to eliminate the wage gap by prohibiting state entities from evaluating candidates based on wage history and requiring state contractors to disclose data on the gender, race and ethnicity of employees – leveraging taxpayer dollars to drive transparency and advance pay equity statewide. Today’s legislation builds on legislative efforts to address the issue and broadens the scope of Executive Order #161 to encompass all employers, not just state entities, in order to break the cycle of unfair, unequal compensation.
The report found that women in New York earn 89 cents for every dollar earned by men—a narrower pay gap than the national average of around 80 cents to the dollar:
However, the gap is substantially wider for women of color in New York as compared to White, non-Hispanic men. Black or African American women are paid the equivalent of 64 cents on the dollar and Hispanic and Latina women are paid 55 cents on the dollar. Among other findings, the study determined the largest difference between female and male median earnings in the finance, insurance and real estate industries.
The report also outlines some of the causes of the wage gap, including the “sticky floor,” a term that refers to a wide range of roadblocks that prevent women from rising beyond the lowest rungs of the career ladder.
Cuomo’s proposed legislation comes a year after New York City passed an ordinance banning salary history questions for businesses operating there, and is the latest in a series of liberal reforms to employment law shepherded through the New York state legislature by the governor. In budget deal reached in 2016, Cuomo and state legislators agreed to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by the end of this year, while also mandating paid parental leave for most employers. That mandate came into effect at the start of 2018.