In April, the New York City Council approved a measure that bans employers from asking job applicants for previous salary information. The measure will affect 3.8 million workers once it takes effect (180 days after Mayor de Blasio signs it).
“Being underpaid once should not condemn one to a lifetime of inequity,” New York Public Advocate Letitia James said in a statement. James spearheaded the campaign to ban public and private employers from being able to question potential employees or search public records to obtain information about their past compensation.
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It’s a move she hopes will help alleviate pay discrimination — particularly the gender pay gap. The idea is that if women are paid less to begin with, and their new salaries are based on existing ones, then the inequity stays with women for their entire career. A report from James’ office last year noted that women in New York City make $5.8 billion less in wages than men each year.
“Women overall continue to be underpaid relative to men. In New York City, Hispanic, Black, and Asian women experience a 54 percent, 45 percent, and 37 percent wage gap, respectively, compared to white men,” says Council Member Helen Rosenthal, co-chair of the NYC Council Women’s Caucus. “This legislation is crucial in our continued efforts to level the playing field on wages.”
The measure doesn’t ban all questions about salary. Employers can still inquire about an applicant’s expectations for salary and benefits, factual benchmarks of their experience, and current unvested equity or deferred compensation. And the measure is not applicable for internal transfers or promotions or for public employees whose salaries are determined by collective bargaining.
You can learn more about the measure here.
Its supporters hope that New York City’s measure will be adopted universally. And because so many companies do business in New York City, some think that it is bound to happen sooner, rather than later.
“I think what we’ll see is companies that do business in New York City just eliminate that from their applications entirely,” Melissa Osipoff, a labor and employment attorney with Fisher & Phillips, told the Washington Post. “This will have wide-ranging influence.”
Still there are groups that oppose the measure, including the Partnership for New York City, which sees the measure as government inserting itself into the relationship between employer and employee. And there’s always the possibility the measure could face legal challenges like a similar measure in Philadelphia.
Currently, 20 states, Washington, D. C., Philadelphia, and San Francisco have introduced similar legislation. At the federal level, the Paycheck Fairness Act also calls to ban the question.
The national idea that the gender pay gap can be closed, in part, through the interview process speaks to the importance of hiring. If you’re planning to hire soon, take a look at some of our other resources: