Assemblymember Steck (D-Colonie) announced that he helped pass legislation to ensure women earn equal pay for equal work. This is the 25th consecutive year the Assembly has passed legislation targeting pay inequity. The measure was passed on Equal Pay Day April 4 which represents just how far into the year women must work to earn the same amount their male counterparts made during the previous year.
Having represented women in equal pay cases, I know how important this issue is. The wage gap has drastic consequences not only for women, but for their families and our economy, Assemblymember Steck said. This issue should no longer plague our state and our nation in the 21st century. As legislators, its our job to ensure equal rights and equal access to opportunity for all New Yorkers, and our mothers, sisters and daughters deserve true equality.
Women across the country only earn 80 cents for every dollar a man does. Its even less for African-American and Hispanic women, who earn 63 cents and 54 cents, respectively, for each dollar their white male counterpart earns.1 It will take African-American women until July 31 and Hispanic women until Nov. 2 to catch up.2 The pay gap costs women hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of their careers, and has a major impact on families, especially for single mothers. A recent study also revealed that out of 550 occupations, women earned more than their male counterparts in just seven of them.3
While there are laws against wage discrimination, they do not go nearly far enough, noted Steck. New York may be closest to closing the pay gap in the United States, but women here still only make 89 cents for every dollar a man makes.4 To ensure women have greater protections under the law, the Assemblys legislation includes the New York State Fair Pay Act to address and enforce pay equity, including broadening equal pay protections to include equivalent jobs and ensuring that traditional female and minority jobs are not undervalued (A.4696).
Additionally, the Assembly passed legislation that would implement a state policy of wage equality for state and municipal employees, as well as direct the Civil Service Commission to study and publish a report evaluating wage disparities among public employees in order to establish where and how inequities exist. This will help ensure equal pay for equal work, regardless of gender, race and national origin (A.658, A.2549).
The legislative package also includes a measure to ensure the state complies with the federal Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and gives public employees a private right of action to sue for compensation and enforce equal pay disparities (A.2425).
Assemblymember Steck noted that at the federal level, President Trump recently revoked the 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order that put in place important federal workplace protections for women, making it even more important for our state to implement strong measures to ensure equality.5
With pay equality protections coming under assault by the federal government, we at the state level must continue pushing these protections so that no women in the Capital Region or in New York State have to face wage discrimination, added Steck. I will continue to work on this issue until the wage gap is completely closed.