City lawmakers are trying to make changes to a landmark pay equity law before it goes into effect in May.
In one of their final moves before the end of session last December, outgoing members of the City Council passed a flurry of legislation, including a popular bill that would require most New York City employers to list salary ranges for any job posting. But a bill introduced on March 24th by Brooklyn-based Councilman Justin Brannan and Queens-based Councilwoman Nantasha Williams proposed certain changes to the pay equity legislation that some advocates said would create large loopholes in the legislation to the point of defanging it completely.
“It’s very sad that New York City, after announcing an exciting progressive possessive law is now back-pedaling, turning back progress and in a way, dashing the hopes and expectations of workers all around the city,” said Beverly Neufeld, president of PowHer NY, one group that campaigned for the legislation.
The matter was set to go before the City Council in a public hearing on Tuesday, according to the legislative body’s calendar.
At the time of its passage, the new law was largely heralded as a major step towards curbing insidious pay gaps between men and women, and between white New Yorkers and everyone else. The city’s Commission Human Rights Commission crafted guidelines around the new legislation and said its implementation would begin May 15th.
The proposed changes sought to carve out any positions that workers can do remotely, an estimated half of all office workers according to a survey from last fall by the Partnership for New York City. The changes also proposed excluding businesses with fewer than 15 employees, up from four that the current law carves out. The bill also proposed pushing back the law’s implementation until November.
The bill currently allows employers to post “general notices” that they’re hiring instead of specific positions, and they don’t need to list pay ranges for them.
Neufeld said she feared the Council was cowing to pressures from the city’s business community.
“It’s another example of people who have [resources] not being sensitive to workers,” she said.
Brannan, who was a co-sponsor of the original 2018 bill, along with current City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, disputed the characterization that lawmakers are walking back the reforms.
"I can assure you nobody is trying to ‘roll back’ our own hard-fought pay equity legislation,” he said.
Williams didn’t return a request Monday evening seeking comment.
One City Council spokesperson pointed to the rapid timeline that the bill made it through the legislative body last December. While former Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal first introduced the bill in 2018, it idled without any type of public hearing until December 2nd of 2021, less than two weeks before it passed.
Asked about the proposed changes, Council spokesperson Breeana Mulligan pointed to Tuesday’s public hearing.
“The appropriate committees will hear from all stakeholders about how the salary transparency law can be most effectively implemented to address salary inequities for women and people of color,” she said.
Women on average make $.86 to every dollar a man earns in New York state, according to a 2021 analysis from the National Women’s Law Center. The wage gap for Black and Latina women is even wider, with Black women earning $.64 and Latina women earning $.56, compared to white men.
Ahead of the Council hearing Tuesday, Kathryn Wylde, the CEO of the business group the Partnership for New York City, co-signed a statement along with the heads of the five chambers of commerce across the city backing the proposed changes to the law and also calling for further reforms.
In a statement, the group proposed exemptions for any industry undergoing a labor shortage and changing the law to only require minimum salaries be posted instead of a pay range.
“We support the goal of the original legislation to maximize transparency and parity in the city’s labor market,” the statement said, adding that the law was passed “without any meaningful public input or consultation with employers.”
“We thank Speaker Adams, Councilmember Williams, and Councilmember Brannan for their willingness to consider the views of employers in amendments to this law,” they added.