According to the Pew Research Center, the national gender gap in pay has narrowed since 1980, but it has remained relatively unchanged over the past 15 years or so. In 2017, women earned 82 percent of what men earned for doing the same job.
New Yorkers of the fairer sex fare somewhat better: The National Partnership for Women & Families pegged the female/male salary ratio at 89 cents per dollar in a study released last year.
In the wake of the study, Governor Andrew Cuomo directed the Labor Department to analyze the pay gap and to make recommendations on how to close it. Cuomo appointed Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul and Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon co-chairs of this study.
This week, Assemblyman Fred Thiele announced that the State Assembly passed legislation to help ensure women earn equal pay for equal work as part of their fight for full women’s equality. The law coincides with a resolution recognizing April 10 as Equal Pay Day — the date represents how far into the year women must work to earn the same amount their male counterparts made the previous year.
“We should be able to tell our daughters and the young girls of this state that their hard work and determination will be valued equally and fairly,” said Assemblyman Thiele. “But that’s unfortunately not the truth. The gender pay gap forces women to play catch-up their whole lives, making economic security harder to reach for them and their families. Equal pay for equal work shouldn’t be a novel idea — it levels the playing field and is the right thing to do.”
African-American and Hispanic women earn 63 cents and 54 cents, respectively, for each dollar their white male counterpart earns, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families.
To ensure women have greater protection under the law, the Assembly’s legislation includes the New York State Fair Pay Act to address and enforce pay equity, including broadening equal pay protections to include equivalent jobs, and ensuring that traditional female and minority jobs are not undervalued.
To further combat wage inequality, the Assembly passed a bill prohibiting employers from requesting, requiring, or seeking a current or prospective employee’s salary or wage history as a condition of employment or promotion.
There are currently four states, as well as Puerto Rico, that have laws forbidding wage history questions, and earlier this month, a federal appeals court ruled that employers cannot justify paying women less based on their previous salaries.
“From equal pay to reproductive freedom, the fight for full women’s rights continues,” said Assemblyman Thiele. “Gender should never be a deciding factor in a person’s chance at economic security, opportunity, and the pursuit of happiness.”