De Blasio bans salary inquiries at city agencies in executive order

City agencies will be prohibited from asking job applicants about their salary histories.

Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order on Friday making it illegal for city agencies to inquire about the salary history of job applicants — something he said would help close the wage gap between men and women.

“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,” de Blasio said in a statement. “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.” 

The vast majority of city workers are unionized and are paid in accordance with their collective bargaining agreements, which have salary schedules that should already help enforce uniform and equitable pay for employees across gender and race. But the mayor’s office said it would take additional steps to ensure pay equity, and that banning a salary inquiry prior to a conditional offer of employment would provide a model for others in the public and private sectors.

The mayor made the announcement in the City Hall rotunda with his wife, Chirlane McCray, who co-chairs the city’s Commission on Gender Equity, which she said was working on this issue.

“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,” she said in a statement. “From the very beginning of our careers, women and men of color have been paid less than our colleagues for the same exact work.”

Also joining the mayor was Public Advocate Letitia James, who has introduced legislation that would ban both public and private employers from asking about salary history. In his remarks on Friday, de Blasio noted he supported the legislation, but that it would take longer to pass and implement than his executive order would.

The executive order goes into effect in 30 days, and prohibits either direct questioning or a search of public records to determine an applicant’s salary history prior to a conditional offer of employment. City agencies will be able to ask about prior salaries after making a job offer that includes a proposed salary.

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