Assemblymember Hunter: Equal Pay Legislation Helps Lift Families Out of Poverty

April 16, 2018

Assemblymember Pamela J. Hunter (D-Syracuse) announced that she helped pass equal pay legislation to combat wage inequality and help hardworking Central New York families.

“As long as women are paid less and their work is undervalued, families suffer,” said Hunter. “The wage gap exacerbates the cycle of poverty, especially for female-headed households. This legislation takes a stand for women and families.”

More than half of Syracuse households are headed by a single parent, meaning that many of these households are headed alone by women.1 Research has shown that equal pay for women would cut the poverty rate for working single mothers by nearly half – from 28.9 to 14.5 percent.2 Further, the wage gap disproportionately affects women of color. For every dollar a white man makes, African-American and Hispanic women in New York only earn 66 and 56 cents, respectively.3 Syracuse has the highest rates of extreme poverty concentration among African-Americans and Hispanics in the U.S.,4 so fighting for equal pay is essential to providing more Central New York families with a fair shot at opportunity and security, noted Hunter.

The legislation Hunter helped pass includes the New York State Fair Pay Act, which enforces pay equity and broadens equal pay protections to include equivalent jobs (A.4696). It also ensures that jobs traditionally occupied by women and minorities are not undervalued. Another measure further bans employers from requesting or requiring job seekers or current employees to provide wage history as a condition of employment or promotion, information that can put women at a disadvantage in pay negotiations, noted Hunter (A.2040-C).

The legislative package also implements a state policy of wage equality for municipal and state employees and directs the Civil Service Commission to study and publish a report on wage disparities among public employees (A.658, A.2549). Another measure ensures that the state complies with the federal Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in giving public employees the right of action to sue for compensation and enforce equal pay disparities (A.2425).

“So many residents in my district face a daily struggle to get by financially. Implementing equal pay legislation can help provide families with necessary financial support that has not been otherwise available,” said Hunter. “It’s time our state does right by every New Yorker, because economic security shouldn’t depend on gender.”