The City Council passed a bill on Wednesday banning employers from asking about salary history during the job application process. The prohibition is meant to take a bite out of the gender wage gap. In New York City, the median income for a woman is $32,200, whereas the median income for a man is $37,700, a difference of 14 percent.
Women are more likely than men to take time off work for family considerations, but even when statisticians control for qualifications, occupation, and experience, a less easily explained gap exists that many attribute to gender discrimination. Recent research has also shown that women are less likely to negotiate their salaries, but also that they can be more likely to be penalized for trying to do so. Pay disparities grow over the course of women's lives as these factors compound.
For women, "Asking for their previous salary information only perpetuates that discrimination," Public Advocate Letitia James, who introduced the legislation, wrote in a statement. "Being underpaid once should not condemn anyone to a lifetime of inequality."
In November, Mayor de Blasio issued an executive order banning salary history inquiries in city hiring, and last summer, Massachusetts became the first state to enact a ban on salary history requirements in hiring. It's now on de Blasio to sign the latest bill into law.
Mark Jaffe, president of the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, told Gothamist that the new rule hurts companies' ability to vet job candidates: "You look at the term, the length of employment, and the actual salary. It gives you an indication of how responsible that person was."
Jaffe acknowledged that salary could be negotiated after a job offer, but said, "There's no doubt that it puts the interviewer at somewhat of a handicap" and will increase the workload of human resources departments.
He continued, "Of course we see both sides to it, but how do you know what job to apply for if you don’t know what the salary is before you go into the interview? So it’s a two-way street that’s now been made one-way."
I noted that I have seldom had access to the salary for a position before applying to it.
Jaffe replied, "I don’t know if I’d go for a job if I don’t know what the salary is."
Supporters of the bill argued that salaries should be based on the duties of a position, not someone's personal history.