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NYC’s Equal Pay Bill: A Symbolic Gesture to USWNT

July 26th, 2019 Emma O'Connor

The New York state legislature passed a bill which will broaden the qualifications for wage discrimination claims to ensure equal pay for men and women of all protected classes.  The bill was signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo during the #USWNTParade in New York City as a gesture of support to the U.S. women’s soccer team.

The Pay Equity Bill significantly changes two components of New York’s equal pay laws which were last updated in 2015.  First, the bill lessens the burden of proof for wage discrimination claims.  It does so by ensuring equal pay for employees that perform equal work and those that perform “substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility and performed under similar working conditions.” This stipulation addresses the fact that New York’s “equal pay for equal work” policy has been accused of upholding a narrow interpretation of wage discrimination. Second, the bill will broaden the protected classes that can claim wage discrimination from “sex, race, and/or national origin,” to “age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, sex, disability, genetic characteristics, familial status, marital status, and domestic violence victim status.”

The Salary History Bill

The Salary History Bill, enacted in mid-June, goes hand in hand with the Pay Equity Bill.  The bill will prohibit New York employers from asking about an employee’s salary history to decide whether to offer him/her a job or establish his/her new pay. Further, an employer will not be able to retaliate against a job candidate or employee who refuses to provide their salary history. Labor advocates claim that the salary history tactic has perpetuated gender-based wage discrimination because women receive 6.6% less than men immediately out of college.

Supporting #USWNT

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the equal pay bill at the #USWNTParade on Twitter in support of the US women’s soccer team’s demand for equal pay. This past March, 28 members of the US women’s soccer team filed a federal gender discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation.  “I just signed new pay equity legislation at the #USWNTParade,” the tweet says. “The women’s soccer team plays the same game that the men’s soccer players play — only better. If anything, the men should get paid less. Thank you @USWNT for helping lead this movement for change!”

Cuomo stole the thunder from Mayor de Blasio, who promised to sign an executive order guaranteeing equal pay for men and women athletes on CNN around the same time. He also explained that he would pressure Congress to amend the Amateur Sports Act.  De Blasio said that if these two actions failed, he would sign an executive order that would “force” the U.S. Soccer Federation to provide equal pay.

Seek Legal Assistance

If you are the victim of wage discrimination, the Working Solutions Law Firm, located in New York City, can assist you. Contact us today at (646)430-7930 to schedule a free case evaluation and receive experienced legal counsel.