In a unanimous vote at Monday night’s board meeting, the Westchester County Board of Legislators passed a measure they believe will combat gender pay inequity, bolster the prospects of downsized job seekers and help those rejoining the workforce after a hiatus.
The Wage History Anti-Discrimination bill, which passed by a vote of 16–0, will prohibit Westchester businesses from asking about a prospective employee’s salary history in a job application or interview.
“This legislation will level the playing field and ensure that all employees have the same opportunity to make the best salary they can negotiate without reference to what they might have been paid in previous jobs,” Legislator Catherine Borgia, an Ossining Democrat, said.
Additionally, proponents of the bill said workers of any gender who leave or lose higher-paying jobs often face resistance when looking for lower-paying work.
“This legislation brings this issue to the forefront and ultimately to a place of fairness,” said Legislator Margaret Cunzio, a Mount Pleasant Republican. “If you are applying for the same job- you should be treated and compensated the same way- fairly.”
According to a study by the American Association of University Women in 2013, women get paid 6.6 percent less than men in their first jobs. When pay for each subsequent job is tied to prior salaries, that inequity is perpetuated.
“This is a crucial step in combating women’s pay inequality, but it also removes a barrier of discrimination, whether intentional or unintentional, that will help all job seekers, including older workers, or workers who are making career transitions, or those returning to work after raising children, and it will do so at no cost to businesses,” said Board Chair Ben Boykin.
“Historically, women and people of color have been paid less for the same jobs as men, and that disparity grows exponentially over a career if every salary offered is dependent on the previous job’s pay,” Legislator Borgia added.
Similar measures have already been put into practice in New York City and in states including California, Delaware, Massachusetts and Oregon. A similar provision is also being considered by the state legislature in Albany.