Seeking to strengthen pay equity laws in New York – Reuters – DC Initiative on Racial Equity
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January 27, 2022 – Though decades have passed since equal pay legislation was first introduced, significant pay inequity persists across gender, race, ethnicity and other protected characteristics. According to the National Women’s Law Center, women in New York typically make 88 cents for every dollar paid to men. For Black women, it’s 65 cents, and for Latina women, it’s 56 cents.

The pay gap compounds and follows these individuals throughout their careers and into retirement. The reasons are complex and the barriers to equity involve sociological, historical and even psychological causes. However, imposing financial and other legal burdens on employers can certainly be a deterrent to discrimination, and New York is and has been taking this approach seriously for over a decade. New York City law has recently given us added protections as well.

Recognizing that pay inequity affects more than gender, the New York State Equal Pay Law (NYSEPL) now broadens the protections to mandate equal pay, not just on the basis of sex, but also race, national origin, age, creed, sexual orientation, gender identity, among others. By contrast, the federal Equal Pay Act (“EPA”) only prohibits unequal pay on the basis of sex.

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Current laws enforcing pay equity

New Yorkers are protected by various laws that enforce employees’ right to equal pay. The EPA requires employers pay men and women in the same establishment equal pay for substantially equal work. The NYSEPL, which mirrored the federal law until 2019, goes further; prohibiting unequal pay between individuals performing “substantially similar work” when considering skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions.

Both laws allow employees to take legal action against their employers who retaliate against them for opposing pay dis


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