Albany, NY – Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee (D-Suffern) yesterday introduced and led to passage in the Assembly a legislative package to help end wage discrimination statewide, as well as a resolution proclaiming April 17, 2012, as Equal Pay Day in New York State (K.1141). Equal Pay Day symbolizes how far in to 2012 women must work to earn to the full equivalent of what men earned in 2011.
“Our state has historically set the standard for equality in this nation, and in the year 2012, it is simply unacceptable that many New Yorkers are not earning equal pay for equal work,” said Jaffee, who is Chair of the Assembly Taskforce on Women’s Issues. “To combat this problem, I and my Assembly colleagues passed a package of bills to address this issue and put an end to unfair pay gaps.”
The Assembly legislation, which Jaffee led the floor debate in support of, would make it easier to enforce equal pay regulations, while establishing a state policy of setting salaries based on comparable work. The legislation would:
- enact the New York State Fair Pay Act to address and enforce pay equity, including broadening equivalent job definitions, determining equivalent skills, making it unlawful for an employer to discriminate between employees on the basis of gender, race or national origin and ensuring that traditional and minority jobs are not undervalued (A.6130-A);
- establish a state policy of equal pay for similar work regardless of sex, race or national origin (A.6448-A);
- implement a state policy that compensates employees in state service equally for work of comparable value by eliminating wage inequality in job titles segregated by sex, race or national origin and requiring civil services to establish methods to review and fix those titles (A.1780-A); and
- design and publish a report evaluating wage disparities of public employees related to job titles, segregated by the gender, race and/or national origin of employees in the same position (A.9623).
“Implementing pay equity would ensure that all workers, regardless of sex, race or national origin, are paid at the same rate for the same work,” Jaffee said. “Jobs should be evaluated to determine what is comparable and a fixed pay rate must be set based on the skill, effort, responsibility and education required to perform the job.”
Jaffee noted that, nationally, women make 77 cents for every dollar paid to men. While women in New York fare slightly better on average, making 83 cents for every dollar men earn, this still amounts to an annual gap of nearly $8,700 between men and women working full time in New York, with women of color being subject to even greater disparities.
New York women lose out on $24 billion each year as a result of the wage gap. If a working woman in New York was making as much as her male counterpart, she could afford roughly 15 more months of food, four additional months of mortgage payments and utility bills, nearly two and a half years worth of health insurance premiums for her family, or over 2,200 gallons of gas.
With nearly 40 percent of American homes relying on the woman as the family breadwinner, families are missing out on resources that could be used to pay bills, put food on the table and help pay the cost of a child’s education.
“Wages should be based solely on skill, effort and experience,” Jaffee said. “New York is a leader in progressive policies concerning equality and leadership, and as such, we have a responsibility to all hardworking New Yorkers to end inexcusable wage disparities.”
For more than 10 years, the Assembly has passed legislation to address pay equity throughout New York, Jaffee added.