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(REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)
(REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

Pay gap

New York City bans employers from asking potential workers about their past salary

By WITW Staff on April 7, 2017

New York City joined Massachusetts, Puerto Rico, and Philadelphia in banning employers from asking job applicants about their pay at current or past jobs after the city council passed the measure in a vote on Wednesday. More than 20 other cities and state legislatures have reportedly introduced similar bills, as lawmakers across the country take aim at a widespread practice that supporters of the bill say can perpetuate pay discrimination experienced by women or minorities.

Underlying the bill is the notion that employers “anchor” the salaries they offer to potential employees based on their current or previous salary — if an employee had faced pay discrimination at a previous job, in other words, the employer’s subsequent lower than market value offer would effectively perpetuate the discrimination.

“Being underpaid once should not condemn one to a lifetime of inequity,” said New York City Public Advocate Letitia James in a statement.

While the measure would only technically apply to New York-based employees, equal pay advocates say the bill is likely to have wide-reaching effects.

“So many companies operate in multiple jurisdictions,” explained Fatima Goss Graves, president-elect of the National Women’s Law Center. “If a company changes its practices in New York, it is likely to also make changes around the country.”

Companies that do business in New York, added labor and employment attorney Melissa Osipoff, are likely to “just eliminate [the question] from their applications entirely.”

Not everyone is happy with the measure. Kathryn Wylde, president and chief executive of the Partnership for New York said that “closing the gender pay gap is important,” but that most of the city’s employers were taking their own steps to address the issue.

“Inserting the city government into the relationship between employer and potential employee is potentially disadvantageous to both,” said Wylde.

A similar measure passed in Philadelphia is facing a legal challenge from the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce on the basis that the bill violates employers’ First Amendment rights.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.


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