New York Governor Continues To Strengthen Equal Pay Protections

Stressful people waiting for job interview

By Vida L. Thomas

On January 9, 2017, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his new “New York Promise” agenda, a sweeping package of reforms that the Governor promises will “advance principles of social justice, affirm New York’s progressive values, and a set a national standard for protections against all forms of discrimination.” As part of that agenda, the Governor signed two executive orders aimed at eliminating the state’s wage gap affecting women and racial and ethnic minorities. The executive orders preclude state employers from asking job applicants about prior salary information, and mandate that state contractors collect and report certain pay data.

Executive Order No. 161 prohibits “state entities” from asking job applicants about their prior compensation before a conditional offer of employment is made.[1]  If a state entity is already in possession of an applicant’s prior compensation, the entity cannot rely on that information when determining the new employee’s salary, unless required by law or a collective bargaining agreement.  “Compensation” means salary, wages, benefits, and any other forms of payment.  If an applicant volunteers his or her prior compensation information, then no violation of the Executive Order has occurred.  However, where an applicant refuses to provide this information, that refusal cannot be considered in making the decision about whether to hire that individual.

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