Westchester County Executive George Latimer signed a law this week that proponents 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 Law, which passed the Board of Legislators by a vote of 16–0 on Monday, will prohibit Westchester businesses from asking about a prospective employee’s salary history in a job application or interview.
“In 2018, it is time we do something about the 1950’s Mad Men-esque workplace conditions women and people of color in Westchester face when it comes to pay equity,” Latimer said. “An applicant’s salary should be based on the quality of work they will do, nothing else.”
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 legislation makes the transaction between a job seeker and an employer much cleaner,” said Westchester County Legislator Catherine Borgia, an Ossining Democrat. “The legislation does not prevent applicants from saying their salary if they feel it is of an advantage to them, but if we want to make real change, we have to start looking at these systemic biases.”
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.
“I really view this as an issue that is not just about women. I’ve had men come to me in my office and say they are in the same situation,” New York State Assemblywoman Sandy Galef said. “This legislation is good for everyone, and hopefully we’ll be able to get this done statewide.”
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.