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New York’s Cuomo Signs Equal Pay Bill as He Touts Soccer Win (1)

July 10, 2019, 2:34 PMUpdated: July 10, 2019, 4:35 PM

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, surrounded by members of the U.S. women’s soccer team, signed into law a bill expanding state protections against wage discrimination.

The July 10 signing kicked off the ticker-tape parade in Lower Manhattan celebrating the team’s fourth World Cup title.

The legislation, passed by the state Assembly and Senate in June, requires employers to give workers equal pay for similar work and bars them from paying less based on protected status such as age, race, or gender. The provision expands to one or more protected classes, including national origin, gender identity and expression, military status, disability, and marital or family status, among others.

Cuomo (D) also signed into law a bill prohibiting all employers that do business in the state from asking applicants about their salary history and compensation.

Equal Pay for Similar Work

“You should get paid the same amount whatever the job is,” Cuomo said. “These are women’s soccer players. They play the same game that the men’s soccer players play. By the way, they play it better. They play it with better results. If there is any economic rationale, the men should get paid less than the women. Let’s be honest. This is all cultural and stereotypical. It is perpetuating a past injustice. Women are not going to take it anymore, and they shouldn’t.”

Members of the U.S. women’s soccer team are in the midst of litigation against U.S. Soccer Federation Inc. over alleged pay discrimination.

The equity law part of Cuomo’s social justice agenda expands on the state’s 2015 equal pay legislation, closing a loophole, Cuomo said. The measure requires equal pay for substantially similar work, rather than equal pay for equal work. Bill sponsors have said the change would lessen the burden for employees to prove wage discrimination.

Employers that violate the law are subject to a $500 civil penalty from the state Department of Labor.

The law takes effect 90 days after enactment.

Prohibiting Salary History Queries

The legislation banning employers from seeking salary history from job candidates builds on an executive order issued by Cuomo last year prohibiting state entities from evaluating candidates based on wage history.

The measure, created to prevent further wage discrimination, bans public and private employers from asking for wage or salary history as a requirement for a job interview, application, offer, or promotion.

The law takes effect 180 days after enactment.

“As we honor the United States Women’s National Soccer Team for its World Cup victory, we are reminded that these champions do not make the same that the U.S. Men’s Team makes, despite winning back to back World Cup championships,” state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D) said in a statement. “The wage gap in New York is just as glaring with White women earning 89 cents to each dollar earned by men, a gap that is even more pronounced among women of color, with Black women earning 63 cents and Latinas earning 54 cents for every dollar.”

“The bills signed into law today will right this wrong by protecting employees from wage discrimination and ending the practice of salary history requests,” Stewart-Cousins said.

(Updated with additional reporting throughout.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Keshia Clukey in Albany, N.Y. at kclukey@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Phil Kushin at pkushin@bloomberglaw.com; Terence Hyland at thyland@bloomberglaw.com

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