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Mayor de Blasio Signs Executive Order Banning City Agencies from Inquiring About Salary History of Job Applicants

November 4, 2016

In major step toward achieving pay equity for women and people of color, City agencies will no longer be allowed to inquire about an applicant’s salary history before extending a conditional offer of employment 

Under Mayor de Blasio, for first time in City history, women and people of color hold majority of managerial positions in City government


NEW YORK—In a major effort to ensure fair employment practices and close the pay gap for women and people of color, Mayor Bill de Blasio today signed Executive Order 21 prohibiting City agencies from inquiring about the salary history of job applicants. Executive Order 21 is the most recent effort by the de Blasio Administration to ensure the families of NYC’s diverse workforce are supported and enabled to thrive. The Mayor also announced his intent to support Intro. 1253, sponsored by Public Advocate Letitia James, which seeks to prevent both public and private employers from inquiring about potential employees’ salary histories. The Mayor and First Lady were joined by senior Administration officials, elected officials, City employees and advocates. 

“It’s no secret that throughout our nation’s workforce, women and people of color are, on average, paid less for the same work as their white, male counterparts. As the employer of over 300,000 City workers, I have a responsibility to lead the way in putting an end to that cycle of discrimination,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Women and people of color constitute the majority of our City workforce and a large share of the people of working age in this city. It’s essential to the success of our local government and our city as a whole that everyone is treated – and paid – with the fairness and respect they deserve.”

“Back in 1976, when I graduated from college, women were paid roughly 60 cents for every dollar that men were paid. That means my classmates and I were valued less than our male peers and destined for a lifetime of less income. The disparity in pay is even greater for women of color,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “From the very beginning of our careers, women and men of color have been paid less than our colleagues for the same exact work. The Commission on Gender Equity, which I co-chair, is working hard to address this issue and create a city where everyone is treated equally. Today’s executive order will advance equal pay for equal work in our city, beginning with our hardworking public servants.”

While over 90 percent of the City’s workforce is unionized and paid in accordance with collective bargaining agreements – which have defined salary schedules driving uniformity and equitable pay practices – the City will take additional steps to ensure pay equity across the municipal workforce. A ban on salary inquiries prior to a conditional offer of employment provides a model for other employers in both public and private sectors.

By eliminating questions regarding an applicant’s previous compensation – which is often used as a benchmark from which to determine starting pay in a new position – employers take a vital step to stop perpetuating a cycle of suppressed wages for women and people of color within their workforce. 

The Executive Order, which goes into effect in 30 days, dictates that prior to making a conditional offer of employment, City agencies cannot seek to obtain information regarding an applicant’s salary history either through direct questioning of an applicant or through searches of public records. An applicant’s salary history includes prior wage, salary, benefits or other compensation. The Order allows for City agencies to inquire about previous salary only after making a conditional offer of employment that includes the salary for the job, and solely for the purpose of evaluating an applicant’s representations about their prior employment, such as degree of responsibility or breadth of role.

The Department of Citywide Administrative Services will provide training for Agency Personnel Officers on the appropriate manner in which to ask about the pay history of applicants who have received conditional offers. Personnel Officers will train their Agency Human Resources staff. DCAS will also conduct periodic reviews to ensure that Agency practices comply with this Order and collect relevant data for its reviews.

“Requiring applicants to provide their salary history perpetuates and exacerbates the existing wage gap,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “Executive Order 21, which will cover those seeking City employment, is an excellent start for potential City agency workers. While the City Council has already implemented this initiative internally, we will soon be considering additional legislation by Public Advocate James to go even further by prohibiting this practice in the private sector. I thank Mayor de Blasio for taking this essential step toward tackling pay disparities and look forward to a hearing on the bill that will apply it citywide.”

“On the eve of a presidential election when a woman's name is on the ballot, we are still fighting for equal pay for equal work. We know that using salary history is not a fair or necessary means to determine an employee’s wages. This practice perpetuates a cycle of wage discrimination against women. It’s why I introduced legislation, Intro. 1253, earlier this year to ban the use of salary history in the hiring process. I’m proud to join Mayor de Blasio as he announces an Executive Order banning the use of salary history in hiring City employees and I’m grateful the Mayor will support my legislation to ban the use of salary history in both the private and public sectors. We will continue this fight until every single one of our daughters, sisters, mothers, and grandmothers are guaranteed equal pay for equal work,” said Public Advocate James.

“Despite years of progress, women across the United States are still paid approximately 54 cents to about 85 cents on a man’s dollar. We cannot wait another 118 years to close the pay gap,” said Azadeh Khalili, Executive Director of Commission on Gender Equity. “Women continue to face discrimination in the job application process and in salary negotiations. This Executive Order will codify City agencies’ commitment to offering salaries to prospective employees based on merit, not sex. The de Blasio Administration stands with pay equity and economic opportunity for every woman and we are committed to right historical wrongs.”

“This Executive Order strengthens our position as a leading municipal employer, enhancing equity across our selection practices. DCAS recently held a national colloquium for diversity and EEO practitioners discussing effective strategies for the nation’s current and future workforce. We are committed to assisting our sister agencies in the promotion of gender equity as well as for the inclusion of all the communities that make up the City of New York,” said Department of Citywide Administrative Services Commissioner Lisette Camilo.

"The City of New York is proud to lead by example in the fight for equal pay. Mayor de Blasio’s Executive Order takes a concrete step to promote equity in the workplace," said Paul Rodríguez, Acting Counsel to the Mayor. "This Administration is committed to building a diverse and inclusive government that fairly values the contributions of all its employees.”

"Thank you to my great city of New York. You've paved the way for a new day when our present and future are no longer limited to the past," said Gloria Steinem.

Women in New York City continue to earn less than men and are more likely to live in poverty. The income gaps are widest among women of color, older women, immigrants, and women without a high school degree. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, the mean income for women in New York City was equivalent to just 80 percent of what men earned, a gap of $10,470. The report also showed that across the United States, women employed full-time lose a combined total of more than $840 billion each year due to the wage gap. Reports on the gender wage gap vary slightly across the board, but according to 2015 U.S Census Bureau data, women earn approximately 80 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts. The problem is even more evident for women of color, compared to what white males make: Black women make 64 cents to every white male dollar, while Latina women make 54 cents, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Black and Latino men across the United States also earn less on average than their white male counterparts. According to the Pew Research Institute, in 2015, black men earned 73 percent of white men’s hourly earnings, while Hispanic men earned 69 percent. This translates to average hourly wages for black and Hispanic men of $15 and $14, respectively, compared with $21 for white men. 

For the first time, under the de Blasio Administration, women and people of color now hold more than half – approximately 52 percent – of managerial positions in City government. The Department of Citywide Administrative Services’ data also shows that the majority of City government employees are people of color, representing approximately 61 percent of the total workforce. 

Across the de Blasio Administration’s senior leadership – which includes senior cabinet members and the heads of agencies and mayoral offices – women occupy 52 percent of the leadership positions, and 44 percent of the leadership positions are occupied by people of color.

The de Blasio Administration has made meaningful changes to improve the lives of the City’s diverse workforce, including:

  • The provision of six weeks of paid time off for maternity, paternity, adoption, and foster care leave, at 100 percent of salary – or up to 12 weeks total when combined with existing leave; 
  • The expansion of Paid Sick Leave to all businesses with five or more employees. 
  • Supporting legislation that will allow Paid Sick Leave to be used for purposes of Paid Safe Leave. This amendment would ensure victims, survivors and those who are impacted by domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault offenses are able to take necessary time to rebuild their lives and seek safety while not sacrificing their paychecks or jobs.
  • An increase in the minimum wage to $15/hour for all City government employees and employees who provide contracted work for the City at social service organizations; 
  • Settled contracts with 99 percent of the municipal workforce, compared to zero when Mayor de Blasio took office – bringing salaries for female-dominated fields like teaching and healthcare in line with salary increases previously given to other municipal workers, and providing all City employees with new 7-year contracts that included 10 percent in raises. 
  • Universal pre-K for All, which has made it possible for thousands of parents to earn a living without sacrificing their children’s early education; 
  • New guidance from the City’s Human Rights Commission defining violations of pregnancy protections under the NYC Human Rights Law and requiring reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees. The guidance explains how the law ensures pregnant employees are not unfairly terminated, pushed out of the workforce or discriminated against based on their pregnancy. 
  • The creation of more family-friendly workplaces, including the creation of lactation rooms for new mothers at social service agencies across the city. 
  • The formation of a first-ever Commission on Gender Equity to leverage the power of City government to expand and increase opportunity for all New Yorkers regardless of sex, gender, or sexual orientation; 
  • The establishment of the Office of Labor Policies and Standards at the Department of Consumer Affairs to ensure rules, regulations, and laws designed to improve working conditions are enforced properly, and that workers and businesses know and understand those laws.
  • The addition of caregiver protections under the New York City Human Rights Law to ensure people providing care to children under the age of 18 and those caring for parents, sibling, spouse, children of any age, grandparent, or grandchild with a disability are protected from employment discrimination, such as being terminated, demoted or denied a promotion because of their status or perceived status as a caregiver. 

“Every New Yorker deserves to be paid based on their qualifications for the job,” said Chair and Commissioner of the NYC Commission on Human Rights Carmelyn P. Malalis. “Inquiring about pay history during the hiring process often continues a cycle of pay inequity, which perpetuates lower salaries for women and people of color. The Mayor’s Executive Order today is a crucial step towards ensuring that all New Yorkers seeking employment with City agencies are paid what they are worth, regardless of their age, gender, or race. The Commission looks forward to working with employers, advocates, and elected officials on future efforts to fight employment discrimination throughout the city.”

“Pay equity and fair hiring practices are fundamental to establishing fairness and equality for all New Yorkers. We applaud the Mayor and our board chair, Chirlane McCray, for advancing these thoughtful and important reforms, and we are proud to be a part of the multi-sector coalition that will take this campaign citywide through a key public-private partnership with the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Commission on Gender Equity,” said Executive Director of the Mayors Fund to Advance New York City Darren Bloch. 

“Thank you to Mayor de Blasio for helping New York City to take this concrete action to reduce pay discrimination for women,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney. “Requiring job applicants to disclose salary history can perpetuate past pay discrimination. By relying on women’s prior salary to determine salary at a new job, an employer can be complicit in ensuring the pay gap persists. This hurts women and the families who depend on them. A report I released in April from the Joint Economic Committee showed that even after controlling for other factors that could account for the discrepancy in wages for men and women, 40 percent of the gender wage gap remains unexplained and could be attributed to discrimination. This discrimination is baked into policies that – inadvertently or otherwise – disadvantage women.”

"Given a long history of wage discrimination, salary history should not be a relevant metric for city hiring," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "I'm happy that Mayor de Blasio recognizes this and is moving the city even further toward pay equity. This step should also demonstrate to private employers in New York that they ought to do more to achieve that goal."

State Senator Jesse Hamilton said, “This measure takes us one step closer to pay equity, sending a clear signal to government and to the private sector that we need to urgently act to advance pay equity. I commend Mayor de Blasio for taking this important step. We must continue to work to ensure equal pay for equal work is a reality for all New Yorkers.”

"We have a long, long way to go before we can say we’ve done enough to ensure equal pay for equal work for all people in this country. Banning salary history inquiries closes off one avenue for the perpetuation of unequal pay for women and people of color. I thank Mayor de Blasio for taking this step, and I hope it will serve as an example throughout New York City and State," said State Senator Liz Krueger.

“Fifty years after the Equal Pay Act was signed into law, women in New York still make an average of just 87 cents for every dollar made by men, with greater discrepancies for Hispanic and black women. Wage discrimination is unacceptable – plain and simple – and prohibiting the practice of salary histories is a crucial step in stamping it out. I'm grateful to Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray for their efforts to stop this harmful practice and look forward to working at the state level to close the wage gap once and for all,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman.

"By signing this Executive Order, Mayor de Blasio has taken a decisive step towards promoting fairer employment practices within our City government that will help close the existing pay gap for women and people of color," said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. "I applaud our City's administration for this bold effort in our continuous fight towards achieving pay equity."

“By signing an Executive Order eliminating salary history as a requirement in applying for a City job, Mayor de Blasio is making New York a leader in the fight for pay equity. It’s a bold step that will help end the vicious cycle in which inequitable wages are perpetuated from one job to the next,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried of Manhattan.

“Compensation figures should be discussed in the beginning of the hiring process, judging applicants by their worth to the organization and not what they earned in previous jobs. This is critical, as salary history has historically been a factor in the perpetuation of disparities in compensating women and minorities. The Mayor’s signing of an Executive Order banning City government employers from requiring salary history will make New York City a leader in rectifying this historical wrong,” said Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon.

“I commend Mayor de Blasio for signing Executive Order 21 to ensure fair employment practices, closing the pay gap for women and people of color. I look forward to working to achieve pay equity across New York State,” said Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi.

“Basing salary on a history of an applicant’s past wages is an unfair practice that discriminates against historically disadvantaged groups by penalizing workers for their previous socioeconomic status,” said Assembly Member David Weprin. “Higher wages for women and people of color will lead to a stronger economy, more productive workforce and less poverty across our city; and I am proud to stand with Mayor Bill de Blasio as he takes this historic step to help reduce the wage gap.”

“Fair and equitable distribution of resources for women is something for which I have consistently advocated, including pay equity,” said Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte, Chair of the Subcommittee on the Oversight of Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises. “I want to applaud Mayor de Blasio again for his leadership in taking the steps needed to bridge the economic gap that exists in our city. As a result of the practice of asking people for their salary history, potential employees are at a disadvantage, particularly women, who have historically been paid less for the same work than their male counterparts, as well as people of color. Today marks a win for workers.”

"Requiring people to disclose their salary history when applying to jobs only contributes to pay inequity and takes the focus away from an individual's potential and qualifications. I commend the Mayor on the signing of this Executive Order and hope that industries outside of City government look to this as an example of actions that can be taken to provide economic security for all," said Assembly Member Nily Rozic.

“Employers should never ask an applicant about previous salaries before offering a job. Not only is that often demeaning, it leaves the applicant at a clear disadvantage, especially if she or he is well qualified for a position. Previous salaries shouldn’t make a difference. New York City is again taking the lead. Other cities should follow this example,” said Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz

Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz said, “I applaud the Mayor for signing this Executive Order to create greater fairness. The salary one receives, or even if an individual is hired in the first place, should be based upon merit and qualifications. Salary history is often used as a rational for denying some people the salaries they deserve.”

"Removing salary history as a requirement for city job applicants is a step in the right direction to end income disparity" said Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman. "Equal pay for equal work is a basic right and this practice of using salary history's to determine compensation only widened the gender wage gap. I thank the Mayor for his efforts to help address this issue."

"Our City is taking an important step forward taking in the pursuit of pay equity. Job applicants should be evaluated on the merits of what they bring to the position, not on their salary history," said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

“Requiring salary history in the hiring process is discriminatory on so many levels and I offer my strong support for putting an end to this practice that has undervalued our workers, not just in city government but in all of the New York State. Employers should make an independent assessment rather than use biased practices to underpay our workforce,” said Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright.

"Removing salary history as a requirement for city job applicants is a step in the right direction to end income disparity" said Assembly Member Alicia Hyndman. "Equal pay for equal work is a basic right and this practice of using salary history's to determine compensation only widened the gender wage gap. I thank the Mayor for his efforts to help address this issue."

“It is unconscionable that in 2016, women are paid 80 cents for every dollar earned by men. By not asking prospective employees for their salary history, New York City will take a significant step toward ensuring that the lower wages women have been paid in the past do not follow into their careers with the City. I thank Mayor de Blasio for his leadership on this issue, which is so important to current and future generations of New York women and families,” said Council Member Debi Rose.

"NYC is doing its part to eliminate the wage gap," said Council Member Daniel Dromm. "By removing salary history requirements on job applications, Mayor de Blasio has helped advance the fight for pay equity in our city. I applaud the Mayor for signing this Executive Order which helps women in the workplace."

“Today’s Executive Order is a major step towards pay equity in New York City,” said Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. “By eliminating salary history as a requirement when a person applies for a job with the City government, we can help make sure that historically lower wages do not follow women for their entire careers. Today, we take an important step towards making equal pay for equal work a true reality.”

“Pay inequality is discrimination that can no longer be tolerated and must be eradicated immediately, which is why I fully support this vital Executive Order. This measure will help put a long awaited end to this type of injustice,” said Council Member Darlene Mealy, Chair of the Committee on Civil Rights.

“Still, in 2016, we are faced with the reality that women in the US earn 79 cents on average for every dollar paid to men. Eliminating salary history reporting from applications for City government jobs is an important measure in closing the gender pay gap, and I applaud Mayor de Blasio for taking this step,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal.

"It is unconscionable that in 2016, we still see significant gaps in pay between men and women," said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. "New York City is setting the example today that it's past time to do away with this gap. I applaud our Mayor for this executive action to eliminate one of the enabling factors that leads to inequities in pay and I hope other cities and the private sector follow suit."

"Equal pay for equal work should be the standard in New York City in 2016," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "What someone earned at a previous job should have no weight in salary negotiations with a potential employer. Thank you Mayor de Blasio for bringing us closer to gender equity in the workforce with this executive order."

"Our city's economy is stronger because of our growing and diverse workforce. Despite our many contributions, women have often been 'benched' in their career advancement as a result of salary history. Under the de Blasio Administration, we have begun to address the root factors that have widened the gender pay gap by raising the minimum wage and providing paid parental leave. Executive Order 21 is another step towards pay equity and equal employment opportunities for all within the City of New York," said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo, Chair of the Committee on Women’s Issues and Co-Chair of the Women's Caucus.

“I applaud Mayor de Blasio’s latest effort to promote pay equity in New York City. It is astounding that in 2016, women and people of color are still systematically paid less for the same work as their white male counterparts. The common place practice that allows employers to consider an applicant’s salary history to determine their starting pay inadvertently perpetuates a cycle that aligns an employee’s worth with race and gender. Fairness and dignity in the workplace starts with a pay check, and I thank the de Blasio Administration for ensuring that prospective City employees will be paid based on their worth,” said Council Member Vanessa Gibson.

"‎Everyone, regardless of gender, age, or race, has the right to equal pay for equal work," said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. "This announcement is a crucial step for our City to even the playing field for job applicants and achieve pay equity for all New Yorkers. I commend Mayor de Blasio for his leadership and pledge to continue working with my City Council colleagues, the Public Advocate and the Administration to eliminate the intrusive and unfair practice of past salary inquiry in both the private and public sector."

“I applaud Mayor de Blasio for his aggressive work to close the pay gap, and for using every recourse in his power to support women and people of color. Executive Order 21 will not only benefit those seeking employment but the families they support as well. With the Mayor’s leadership, New York City is, again, a leader on pay equity and a better place for working families,” said Council Member Ferreras-Copeland.

“New York City continues to lead the way toward a more inclusive and equitable future,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “This most recent commitment is just the latest in an impressive series of initiatives that sets an example for employers everywhere. A workforce that reflects everyone – our diversity and our values – is the very embodiment of progress."

“When employers ask applicants about salary history, it creates a cycle of inequality and entrenches the wage gap deeper into our workplace,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “By eliminating this line of questioning from the application process, Mayor de Blasio’s Executive Order will help foster a culture of fairness and dignity that moves our city forward. I thank the Mayor and his outstanding team for this most welcome reform.”

“The fact that women still earn just 80 cents for each dollar that men are paid is hurting New York and its working families. By joining other cities and states in limiting the discriminatory use of salary history in setting pay, Mayor de Blasio is helping New York lead the way in the fight against inequality,” said General Counsel and Program Director of the National Employment Law Project Paul Sonn.

“The Asian American Federation applauds the Mayor’s decision to sign Executive Order 21, which paves the way for more equitable wages for women and people of color. By disallowing the practice of requesting job applicants’ salary history until a conditional job offer has been made, the Mayor has helped City agencies move closer to ensuring fairer employment practice and pay for this portion of the workforce that is often vulnerable to underpayment and exploitation. For Asian New Yorkers, 29 percent of who live below the poverty line, this change translates into more opportunities for individuals and families to succeed and thrive,” said Executive Director of the Asian American Federation Jo-Ann Yoo.

“A Better Balance applauds this move by the Mayor to institute policies for the City workforce that will help end disparities in pay based on gender,” said Executive Director of A Better Balance Sherry Leiwant. “Because women earn less than men across the board, a vicious cycle is created when employers can base pay on what was previously earned. Eliminating questions about previous earnings is an important step in guaranteeing equal pay in employment and provides a model for private sector employers.”

Executive Director of the Center for Children’s Initiative Nancy Kolben said, “The Mayor is to be applauded for reducing an important barrier for women seeking equal pay for equal work and eliminating past wage discrimination as a barrier for women applying for positions in government. This is an important step in reaching pay equity for women.”

National Employment Lawyers Association – NY Chapter President Joshua Friedman said, “NELA/NY strongly supports Mayor de Blasio's Executive Order prohibiting City agencies from asking candidates about their salary histories, prior to a conditional offer. We know that such inquiries perpetuate historical disparities in the compensation of women and minorities, as the Public Advocate's recent report demonstrated. We are grateful to the Mayor for doing all he can on an executive basis, while we work to address these disparities in City employment.”

Radhika Balakrishnan, Member of the Commission on Gender Equity and Faculty Director at the Center for Women’s Global Leadership and Professor of Women's and Gender Studies at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, said, “I applaud Mayor de Blasio for signing an Executive Order to eliminate the question of salary history when applying for a job in City government. This short question could have a lasting impact on lifetime earnings. By eliminating this question, new City employees will be compensated based on their skills rather than their past salaries. New York will be taking the lead in promoting gender and racial equality. I congratulate the Mayor and the First lady of New York on this important occasion and am proud to be a member of the Commission on Gender Equity.”

“This is a great step in the right direction. Asking women for their prior salary helps keep women's compensation artificially low. We applaud the Mayor’s initiative,” said Silda Palerm, co-Chair of the Commission on Gender Equity.

“Today’s Executive Order provides a much-needed fairness framework for salaries of new City employees. Those hardest hit by pay inequity, such as women and people of color, will especially benefit from Mayor de Blasio’s reforms. Talented incoming employees cannot be penalized for past salary history that is often affected by unemployment or maternity leave,” said President and CEO of Legal Momentum Carol Robles-Roman.

"Compensation should be based on a worker’s skills for a job, not on gender or race. By using salary history to set wages, employers unwittingly perpetuate the inequitable pay a woman typically earns at the start of her career, which multiplies with each job, limiting financial security and career advancement. We applaud Mayor de Blasio’s bold policy which will help break this cycle of wage discrimination and close the wage gap," said President of PowHer New York Beverly Neufeld.

“We applaud this Executive Order and the significant steps it takes towards a fairer and more inclusive workplace,” said Founder and Interim CEO of the Seleni Institute Nitzia Logothetis. “By removing this barrier to pay equality, New York City Mayoral agencies are leading the way towards a more equitable workplace for all.”