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Assemblyman Thiele pushes wage equality legislation

Although New York State has taken some steps to improve gender equality with respect to equal pay, Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) is calling on his colleagues to fully close the gap between men and women in general, and a larger gap that exists for women who are African-American or Hispanic.

He’s calling on the State Legislature to support a proposed law to achieve equal pay as rapidly as possible.

Women, families and the state’s economy suffer from existing pay gaps, where white women received $13,147 less annually than their male counterparts, and African American women make $24,370 less. Hispanic women earn $30,023 less over the course of a year then men.

The legislator pointed out that the American Association of University Women predicts that at the current rate, pay equity won’t be achieved for 100 years.

A pending measure would expand equal pay provisions for substantially similar work and prohibit differentials in pay based on factors including age, race, gender identity or expression, national origin and all other protected classes.

“Sexism and bigotry simply have no place in our state,” Mr. Thiele said.

The state has already passed a law prohibiting employers from requesting, requiring or seeking a current or prospective employee’s salary or wage history as a condition of employment or promotion. Earlier this year, a federal appeals court ruled that employers cannot justify paying women less based on previous wages.

To help ensure public employees receive equal compensation regardless of status within a protected class or classes, the Assembly passed legislation implementing a principle of fair and equal pay for substantially similar work in terms of “skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions.”

The state directed the Department of Civil Service, in conjunction with the Office of Information and Technology Services, to study and publish a report examining the wage disparities in civil service job titles, as well providing public employees with a right of action to enforce equal pay for substantially similar work.

“Gender and race should never be deciding factors in a person’s chance at economic security or opportunity,” Mr. Thiele said. “New York State has always been at the forefront of progress and a steadfast advocate for women’s rights.”

To continue to live up to its legacy, he said more action is necessary.

“Nearly 100 years after women won the right to vote, the fight for equality and opportunity wages on,” Mr. Thiele said.