New York Lawmakers Expand Pay Equity Law and Ban Salary History Inquiries

Employee Benefit Plan Review January 2020

Susan Gross Sholinsky and Carrie Anderer, attorneys in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s New York office, co-authored an article in Employee Benefit Plan Review, titled “New York Lawmakers Expand Pay Equity Law and Ban Salary History Inquiries.”

Following is an excerpt (see below to download the full version in PDF format):

On the heels of passing sweeping changes to New York’s harassment and discrimination laws, the state legislature has approved major changes to New York’s pay equity statute. This two-pronged expansion of the equal pay law includes (i) A 8093-A / S 5428-B1 (“Pay Equity Bill”), which will enable many more employees to more easily prove compensation discrimination, and (ii) A 5308-B2 / S 65493 (“Salary History Bill”), which provides a ban on salary history inquiries. Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has been a strong advocate of the measures, signed both bills into law.

Expansion of Pay Equity Law

Consistent with the federal Equal Pay Act, New York law, with some exceptions, currently requires that men and women receive equal pay for equal work. The Pay Equity Bill dramatically expands the law to protect an employee, job applicant, or intern based on any protected class recognized under the New York State Human Rights Law (“HRL”). The more than one dozen categories protected under the HRL currently include age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, sex, disability, predisposing genetic characteristics, familial status, marital status, and domestic violence victim status.4 Thus, whereas the law previously allowed an equal pay claim based only on sex, the Pay Equity Bill will permit an individual to assert a claim of unequal pay based on, for example, race, sexual orientation, or familial status.