Mayor de Blasio signed an executive order on Friday banning city agencies from asking about the salary history of people applying for jobs, in an effort to curtail gender and racial pay gaps.
The order covers some 300,000 positions, though more than 90 percent of those are union jobs and have salaries set under collective bargaining agreements. The order will reshape hiring for managerial positions, which aren't union.
"It’s no secret that throughout our nation’s workforce, women and people of color are, on average, paid less for the same work as their white, male counterparts. As the employer of over 300,000 City workers, I have a responsibility to lead the way in putting an end to that cycle of discrimination," de Blasio said in a statement announcing the order.
The announcement touts the order as a model for employers everywhere. The order goes into effect in 30 days, and specifically, it says that city agencies cannot seek salary history information by questioning or research prior to making a conditional job offer. After extending an offer, agencies will be allowed to look into salary history, but only as far as it comes up in verifying past employment, and they will not be allowed to consider it in setting pay.
The Department of Citywide Administrative Services is tasked with training agency personnel officers about the new rules, and ensuring compliance through "periodic reviews."
According to a recent study by the Public Advocate's Office, women working full time in New York state make 87 cents for every dollar earned by a man. In New York City, this has a pronounced racial disparity as well, with Hispanic, African-American, and Asian-American women making 54, 45, and 37 percent less than white men, respectively—divides that are more pronounced than the rest of the country. The divide is also worse in New York's city government than the private sector, with women working for the city making 18 percent less than their male counterparts, compared to a 6 percent gap in for-profit businesses.
The gender and racial gaps in city government compensation apparently include union workers. The public advocate report cites an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against the Department of Citywide Administrative Services itself, the agency tasked with enforcing the new executive order. In 2013, the Communications Workers of America alleged that the city was segregating job titles and discriminating against women, particularly women of color, in promotions.
The city, under de Blasio, refused to provide the EEOC data it requested as part of the ensuing investigation, and in 2015, the feds formally decided that the city had violated the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination. We reached out to the Mayor's Office to ask why DCAS resisted disclosure, what steps it is taking in response to the feds' finding, and how this recent behavior squares with the spirit of the executive order. A Law Department spokesman said DCAS has no role in the investigation and claimed that the Law Department is now cooperating. He declined to comment further.
In August, Public Advocate Letitia James introduced a bill that would prohibit all employers from asking for salary history at any point in the hiring process.
"We know that using salary history is not a fair, or necessary, means to determine an employee’s wages," James said in a statement lauding the executive order. "This practice perpetuates a cycle of wage discrimination against women."
This summer, Massachusetts became the first state to enact a ban on salary history requirements in hiring.