Assembly Passes Equal Pay Legislation

Continued fight for full women’s equality

Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright (D-Upper East Side, Yorkville, Roosevelt Island) announced that she helped pass legislation to ensure women earn equal pay for equal work. The package of bills coincides with 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.

“The wage gap hurts women and it hurts their families,” Assembly Member said. “But the biggest injustice is that we are continuing to allow women to be treated like second-class citizens. It is disgraceful. It goes against everything we value here in New York State – equality, opportunity and a fair chance to succeed.”

Women across the country only earn 80 cents for every dollar a man does. It’s even less for African-American and Hispanic women, who earn 63 cents and 54 cents, respectively, for each dollar their white male counterpart earns. It will take African-American women until July 31 and Hispanic women until November 2 to catch up. The pay gap costs women hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of their lifetimes, and this issue is compounded as more women remain single or raise a family on their own. A recent survey also revealed that out of 550 occupations, women only earned more than their male counterparts in a mere seven of them.

While there are laws against wage discrimination, they do not go nearly far enough. 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. To ensure women have greater protections under the law, the Assembly 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).

Further, 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 that, moving forward, employees with equal jobs receive the same compensation 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).

“While it seems that we should be past this in 2017, we are not,” Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright said. “We still have a long way to go. I’m never going to stop fighting for pay equity.”

Seawright noted that President Trump recently revoked the 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Order that put in place important federal protections for women, making it all the more important that New York implement strong measures on the state level.