De Blasio Prohibits City Agencies From Asking Salary History Of Job Applicants

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Mayor Bill de Blasio today signed Executive Order 21 prohibiting City agencies from inquiring about the salary history of job applicants.

De Blasio also his support of Public Advocate Letitia James‘ proposed bill that would prevent both public and private employers from inquiring about potential employees’ salary histories.

De Blasio and James maintain that by eliminating questions regarding an applicant’s previous compensation – which is often used as a benchmark from which to determine starting pay in a new position – employers take a vital step to stop perpetuating a cycle of suppressed wages for women and people of color within their workforce.

Mayor Bill de Blasio
Mayor Bill de Blasio

“It’s no secret that throughout our nation’s workforce, women and people of color are, on average, paid less for the same work as their white, male counterparts. As the employer of over 300,000 City workers, I have a responsibility to lead the way in putting an end to that cycle of discrimination,” said de Blasio. “Women and people of color constitute the majority of our City workforce and a large share of the people of working age in this city. It’s essential to the success of our local government and our city as a whole that everyone is treated – and paid – with the fairness and respect they deserve.”

While over 90 percent of the City’s workforce is unionized and paid in accordance with collective bargaining agreements – which have defined salary schedules driving uniformity and equitable pay practices – the City will take additional steps to ensure pay equity across the municipal workforce. A ban on salary inquiries prior to a conditional offer of employment provides a model for other employers in both public and private sectors.

The Executive Order, which goes into effect in 30 days, dictates that prior to making a conditional offer of employment, City agencies cannot seek to obtain information regarding an applicant’s salary history either through direct questioning of an applicant or through searches of public records.

Public Advocate Letitia James
Public Advocate Letitia James

“On the eve of a presidential election when a woman’s name is on the ballot, we are still fighting for equal pay for equal work. We know that using salary history is not a fair or necessary means to determine an employee’s wages. This practice perpetuates a cycle of wage discrimination against women,” said James. “We will continue this fight until every single one of our daughters, sisters, mothers, and grandmothers are guaranteed equal pay for equal work.”

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, the mean income for women in New York City was equivalent to just 80 percent of what men earned, a gap of $10,470. The report also showed that across the United States, women employed full-time lose a combined total of more than $840 billion each year due to the wage gap. Reports on the gender wage gap vary slightly across the board, but according to 2015 U.S Census Bureau data, women earn approximately 80 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts.

The problem is even more evident for women of color, compared to what white males make: Black women make 64 cents to every white male dollar, while Latina women make 54 cents, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For the first time, under the de Blasio Administration, women and people of color now hold more than half – approximately 52 percent – of managerial positions in City government. The Department of Citywide Administrative Services’ data also shows that the majority of City government employees are people of color, representing approximately 61 percent of the total workforce.

A bevy of Brooklyn lawmakers also hailed the executive order.

State Sen. Jesse Hamilton
State Sen. Jesse Hamilton

State Senator Jesse Hamilton said, “This measure takes us one step closer to pay equity, sending a clear signal to government and to the private sector that we need to urgently act to advance pay equity. I commend Mayor de Blasio for taking this important step. We must continue to work to ensure equal pay for equal work is a reality for all New Yorkers.”

“Compensation figures should be discussed in the beginning of the hiring process, judging applicants by their worth to the organization and not what they earned in previous jobs. This is critical, as salary history has historically been a factor in the perpetuation of disparities in compensating women and minorities. The Mayor’s signing of an Executive Order banning City government employers from requiring salary history will make New York City a leader in rectifying this historical wrong,” said Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon.

Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte
Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte

“Fair and equitable distribution of resources for women is something for which I have consistently advocated, including pay equity,” said Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte, Chair of the Subcommittee on the Oversight of Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises. “I want to applaud Mayor de Blasio again for his leadership in taking the steps needed to bridge the economic gap that exists in our city. As a result of the practice of asking people for their salary history, potential employees are at a disadvantage, particularly women, who have historically been paid less for the same work than their male counterparts, as well as people of color. Today marks a win for workers.”

“Employers should never ask an applicant about previous salaries before offering a job. Not only is that often demeaning, it leaves the applicant at a clear disadvantage, especially if she or he is well qualified for a position. Previous salaries shouldn’t make a difference. New York City is again taking the lead. Other cities should follow this example,” said Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz

City Councilwoman Darlene Mealy
City Councilwoman Darlene Mealy

“Pay inequality is discrimination that can no longer be tolerated and must be eradicated immediately, which is why I fully support this vital Executive Order. This measure will help put a long awaited end to this type of injustice,” said Council Member Darlene Mealy, Chair of the Committee on Civil Rights.

“Our city’s economy is stronger because of our growing and diverse workforce. Despite our many contributions, women have often been ‘benched’ in their career advancement as a result of salary history. Under the de Blasio Administration, we have begun to address the root factors that have widened the gender pay gap by raising the minimum wage and providing paid parental leave. Executive Order 21 is another step towards pay equity and equal employment opportunities for all within the City of New York,” said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo, Chair of the Committee on Women’s Issues and Co-Chair of the Women’s Caucus.

City Councilman Stephen Levin
City Councilman Stephen Levin

“New York City continues to lead the way toward a more inclusive and equitable future,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “This most recent commitment is just the latest in an impressive series of initiatives that sets an example for employers everywhere. A workforce that reflects everyone – our diversity and our values – is the very embodiment of progress.”

 

 

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