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Council Bill Seeks to Close Gender Pay Gap, Public Advocate Says

By William Mathis | August 11, 2016 2:50pm
 New York City Public Advocate Letitia James proposed a new bill that would help close the gender pay gap in the city.
New York City Public Advocate Letitia James proposed a new bill that would help close the gender pay gap in the city.
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DNAinfo/Rosa Goldensohn

NEW YORK CITY — A new bill that seeks to prohibit employers from asking for a prospective employee’s salary history will be a “key step” in closing the gender pay gap, the city’s public advocate said.

The bill, which New York City Public Advocate Letitia James proposed Wednesday, is intended to prevent wage discrimination from following an employee from one position to another.

“Banning the use of salary history to determine wages will help make ‘equal pay for equal work’ a reality,” James said. “Requesting a prospective employee’s salary history perpetuates inequitable wages for women and prolongs the cycle of wage discrimination.”

The bill will be introduced at next Tuesday's City Council meeting, according to Anna Brower, a spokesperson for the public advocate.

Women in New York City make $5.8 billion less than men in wages each year, according to U.S. Census Bureau data quoted in an April report James published on the gender pay gap.

Women of color are particularly hard hit by the gender pay gap, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Hispanic, Black or African American, and Asian women experience a 54-, 45- and 37-percent wage gap, respectively, relative to white men in New York City, the report noted.

The proposed legislation comes after Massachusetts became the first state in the country to ban employers from requesting salary history from prospective employees as part of a bill signed into law Aug. 1.The bill will be co-sponsored by by Council members Elizabeth Crowley, Laurie Cumbo, Julissa Ferreras, Brad Lander, Helen Rosenthal and Rafael Salamanca.

Mayor Bill de Blasio also supports the legislation.

"The de Blasio administration is deeply committed to creating a city where women and girls are treated fairly, and that includes the workplace. Pay equity is central to the fight for gender equity," mayoral spokeswoman Rosemary Boeglin said.

Women's advocacy groups hailed the proposed bill as a positive step forward.

“Being required to show prospective employers a salary history can result in a lifetime of significantly lower earnings,” said Sonia Ossorio, President of National Organization for Women-NYC. “If we're serious about closing the wage gap, then New York City needs to get serious about changing this practice.”