Position Statement -2019
A.5308 -A (Crespo) / S.3692-A (Carlucci)
The Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (WBASNY) supports this legislation, which would amend the Labor Law, to prohibit an employer from inquiring about a potential employee’s salary history before making an offer of employment. In addition, the legislation would prohibit an employer from requesting such information “as a condition to be interviewed, or as a condition of continuing to be considered for an offer of employment, or as a condition of employment or promotion.” If the employer has already made an offer with compensation, and the prospective employee responds to the offer with wage information to support a request for higher compensation, the employer may verify that information.
The legal profession is not immune to the problem of gender wage disparity. National studies show significant salary and position disparity between women and men. An October 2016 study by the legal search firm Major, Lindsey & Africa, found that female partners at big U.S. law firms earned an average of 44% less than their male counterparts annually. According to the National Association for Law Placement’s 2016 Report on Diversity in U.S. Law Firms, only 18.1% of equity partners in multi-tier law firms were women, and only 5.8% were racial/ethnic minorities. In 2016, women accounted for only 23% of the partners in the nation’s major law firms, and minorities accounted for only 8%. In that same period, women made up 45% of associates, and minority women made up 12%. Given that equity partners typically earn more than salaried partners, who typically earn more than associates, this translates into a large wage difference between the sexes.
WBASNY believes that an effective and practical way to reduce wage discrimination both within the legal profession and generally is to prohibit employers from asking job candidates about their wage history. Salary history is often used as a tool for setting wages. Yet, doing so perpetuates the gender wage disparity.
The economic impact of the gender wage gap, including in the legal profession, is clear. To reduce the gender wage gap, we must remedy the disparity that occurs when an employer bases wages on prior wage history. Stopping employers from asking potential workers about their wage history is an excellent practical step that goes a long way to preventing the entrenchment of discrimination against women.
WBASNY consists of over 4,200 members from twenty (20) chapters across New York State dedicated to promoting the advancement of the status of women in society and of women in the legal profession, and to the fair and equal administration of justice. Our members include individuals from all levels of state and federal benches, as well as prominent attorneys practicing in all areas of the law, educators and government leaders.