A new bill sponsored by Public Advocate Letitia James would prohibit employers from asking job applicants to disclose their salary and benefit histories—a common practice she says reinforces the gender wage gap.
"Requesting a prospective employee's salary history perpetuates inequitable wages for women and prolongs the cycle of wage discrimination," James stated on Wednesday.
James suggested a ban on salary history requests this spring, when her office released a report on New York City's gender wage gaps by race and sector. According to that report, Asian women in NYC earn 63 cents to a white man's dollar, compared to 86 cents at the national level. Black women in NYC earn 55 cents to the dollar (versus 64 cents nationally) Hispanic women 46 cents (versus 54 cents nationally), and white women 84 cents (versus 77 cents nationally).
There are about 4.4 million women in New York City, according to the report, making up just over half of the city's total population. Women make up about 49% of the city's workforce. Among college-educated women in NYC, the gender wage gap is 16%. Among women with postgraduate degrees, it jumps to 20%.
The report also points out that women tend to be concentrated in lower-paying City jobs. James's office found that the majority of female municipal workers in NYC, about 55%, are employed by the Department of Education. In the DOE, 77% of all employees are women, and the median full-time salary is about $69,900. For comparison, women make up 9% of the Fire Department, where the median salary is among the highest in the city—about $76,480.
Just last week, Massachusetts became the first state in the country to ban employers from asking job applicants for their salary history during the interview process. The new Massachusetts law also states that "time spent on leave due to a pregnancy-related condition and protected parental, family, and medical leave shall not reduce seniority."
"There's an overall wage gap, but there's an even larger wage gap for mothers," Fatima Goss Graves of the National Women's Law Center told the Atlantic this month. Women can end up having lower pay and fewer benefits because of their disproportionate role as caregivers or the time they take for family leave."
James's spring report on the wage gap in NYC called for "family-friendly workplace policies," but a spokeswoman for the Public Advocate said Thursday that the proposed legislation doesn't include a provision about parental leave as it pertains to seniority.
In December, Mayor de Blasio mandated six weeks of paid family leave for all non-union City workers. Governor Cuomo enacted 12 weeks of partially-paid leave for all workers employed for at least six months in April.