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Board Votes to End Salary History Questions in Job Interviews

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White Plains, NY — The Westchester County Board of Legislators Monday night passed a measure to combat gender pay inequity and also to help job seekers who may have been downsized or may be returning to work after a long hiatus.


The new provision, passed unanimously by a vote of 16 – 0, will bar businesses in Westchester from asking about a job seeker's previous salary history as a requirement in a job application or interview.


Untethering future earnings from a person's salary history is an important step in fighting the gender pay gap.  A study by the American Association of University Women in 2013 found that 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.


But the measure protects more than just female job seekers. Workers, regardless of gender, who leave or lose higher-paying jobs often face resistance from when they're looking for lower-paying work – work they might really need. Employers might believe they can't afford the job seeker, or that job seeker will be unhappy or more likely to leave sooner.


Board Chair Ben Boykin said, "This is a crucial step in combatting women's pay inequality, but it also removes a barrier of discrimination -- whether intentional or unintentional -- that will help all job seekers, including older workers, or workers who are making career transitions, or those returning to work after raising children, and it will do so at no cost to businesses."


“Historically, women and people of color have been paid less for the same jobs as men, and that disparity grows exponentially over a career if every salary offered is dependent on the previous job’s pay,” said Legislator Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining), the primary sponsor of the law. “This legislation will level the playing field and ensure that all employees have the same opportunity to make the best salary they can negotiate without reference to what they might have been paid in previous jobs.   Many industries are already eliminating the salary history question in their hiring practices. It’s time for Westchester businesses to do the same."


Majority Leader Catherine Parker (D-Rye), said, “The Democratic caucus has championed the salary history legislation from its inception because we believe it will give Westchester residents a chance for real parity in wages and will reduce the possibility of conscious or unconscious bias based on gender, race or age.”


Legislator Margaret Cunzio, (C-Mt. Pleasant), stated, “This legislation brings this issue to the forefront and ultimately to a place of fairness.  If you are applying for the same job- you should be treated and compensated the same way- fairly.”


Studies have found that women are less likely to negotiate salaries than men are.  A survey conducted for online job site Glassdoor, found that 68 percent of women seeking jobs accepted the first salary they were offered without negotiating, compared to 52 percent of men, and when they did negotiate, men were more than three times more successful than women in negotiating for higher pay.


Furthermore, the gender negotiation gap appears to increase with age. The same Glassdoor survey found that 77 percent of women 45-54 accepted the first salary they were offered.


Similar measures are already on the books in New York City and in several states, and another such provision is being considered by the state legislature in Albany.


Pictured Above From Left to Right: Legislators Kitley Covill, Majority Leader Catherine Parker, Virginia Perez, Margaret Cunzio, Catherine Borgia, Chairman Ben Boykin, Vice Chair Alfreda Williams and Legislators Nancy Barr & Majority Whip MaryJane Shimsky

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