New York Passes Bills Protecting Equal Pay

July 29, 2019

New York employees won greater protections against discriminatory pay practices last week, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed two new pieces of legislation into law.

Senate Bill S5248B, called Equal Pay for All, expands on existing provisions under New York’s Achieve Pay Equity Act. Previously, paying one employee less than another for doing substantially similar work was only illegal when the decision was based on gender. Under the new law, pay inequity provisions apply to any protected classes under New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL). With these protections in place, employers are entitled to equal pay for equal work regardless of “age, creed, race, color, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, disability, military status, domestic violence victim status, criminal or arrest record, or predisposing genetic characteristics,” per NYSHRL. 

In a symbolic move, Gov. Cuomo signed the pay equity legislation into law on July 10th in Manhattan during a parade celebrating the U.S women’s soccer team’s World Cup victory. After the signing, the Governor tweeted, “The women’s soccer team plays the same game that the men’s soccer players play — only better. If anything, the men should get paid less.” 

Gov. Cuomo signed a second bill that same day. Senate Bill S6549 prohibits employers from asking job applicants about salary and wage history when making hiring and salary decisions. The move is anticipated to help close the gender wage gap in New York. As of 2018, female employees in New York earned 89 cents to each dollar earned by men.

The New York State Legislature also recently passed bill A08421, which would expand employee protections from harassment and discrimination. Gov. Cuomo has not yet signed the bill into law. 

The new equal pay provisions will take effect on October 8, 2019, 90 days after the bill was enacted. The salary history provisions take effect after 180 days, on January 6, 2020. As always, Commonwealth will keep you updated on these and other legislative decisions affecting employers. Please contact us with any questions.

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