On Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, Attorney General candidate Tish James today released a policy brief outlining how she will build on her previous work to fight for gender equity in the workplace as New York State Attorney General. The paper highlights the unjust reality that working women face -- from systemic lower wages for equal work to pervasive sexual harassment and worse -- and spells out a strategy to take on these issues through investigation, legislation, and litigation. To view the policy brief in full, click here.
“The law is clear -- equal work deserves equal pay. As Attorney General, I’ll fight in and out of the courtroom to make that the reality in New York. I will investigate, legislate, and litigate against any actor who discriminates or harasses women in the workplace. I’ve already used these tools on the City level, and as Attorney General, I’ll continue to build on this foundation across the state,” said Attorney General candidate Tish James.
Taking on the Wage Gap
Despite federal, state, and city laws requiring equal pay for equal work, women overall in the United States of America make just 79 cents for every dollar that a man makes. New York has a smaller wage gap, at 89 cents on the dollar. This disparity is even worse for women of color in New York, with Black women making only 66 cents to the dollar, Latina women making 56 cents, and Asian women making 82 cents.
Known as “Black Women’s Equal Pay Day,” August 7, 2018 represents the date through which Black women would have to work to make up the difference between their 2017 earnings and those of white men.
As Attorney General, Tish James will use the power of her office to expose these disparities, and will fight for solutions that ensure equal work receives equal pay, including:
Banning Salary History Questions: Gender-based wage disparities start the moment a woman enters the workplace -- and can follow her throughout her entire career. As New York City Public Advocate, Tish James successfully passed a landmark law banning employers in the City from asking about an applicant’s salary history. As Attorney General, she will fight for legislation statewide.
Creating a Wage Discrimination Task Force: The wage gap is built on two main pillars -- barriers to advancement for women and devaluing women’s work. As Attorney General, Tish James will partner with other state agencies to form a task force that will investigate sectors and companies that disproportionately employ women in lower-wage jobs. The task force will conduct payroll audits, comparable worth analyses, and probes into promotion practices to determine the causes of the disparities, and will take enforcement action to correct them.
Suing to Ensure Equal Pay and Protect Caregivers: State law requires businesses pay men and women equal rates for jobs that require equal effort, skill, and responsibility under similar conditions -- but without strong enforcement, the law is merely aspirational. As Attorney General, Tish James will take companies that discriminate based on an employee’s gender, pregnancy, or status as a caregiver to court. She will also sue to protect workers’ rights to predictable work schedules, to be free from bias and retaliation as a result of caregiving responsibilities or pregnancy, and to paid family leave.
Fighting Sexual Harassment and Assault
Across industries, the #MeToo movement has exposed the systemic abuses many women face in the workplace. From pervasive harassment to heartbreaking stories of assault, women across the country have stood up to say that enough is enough.
As Public Advocate, Tish James introduced legislation requiring companies to disclose if they require employees to sign forced arbitration clauses and non-disparagement agreements, which have kept too many victims of harassment and assault silent. As Attorney General, Tish James will fight to right these pervasive wrongs by:
Investigating Companies with Histories of Harassment Complaints to determine if systemic abuses have occurred.
Suing Businesses that have a Culture of Abuse, using the framework created by the Weinstein Company litigation.
Creating a Corporate Code of Conduct for best practices to prohibit sexual harassment and assault, and seeking partnerships with companies hoping to right past wrongs.