money in pocketBy Bernadette Starzee

Last October, a law prohibiting employers from asking about salary history at all stages of the hiring process took effect in New York City. The law’s primary aim was to close the gender pay gap, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pushing to pass a similar law statewide.

Laws similar to the New York City law are already in place or will be effective soon in several nearby jurisdictions, including Westchester County, Connecticut, Albany and Massachusetts.

The penalty for what is deemed an unintentional look into a person’s salary history can be as high as $125,000 for each violation, while it can reach $250,000 for a blatant violation, according to Arthur Yermash, a senior associate focusing on labor and employment law at Ronkonkoma-based Campolo, Middleton & McCormick, who noted it’s unclear if the penalties would be as stringent if a similar law were passed statewide.

The impetus behind the law is to create pay equality between men and women. Women earn 80.5 cents for every dollar earned by men, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In the months that the New York City law has been in place, “we haven’t seen tremendous impact” on salaries, Yermash said. “But if the law has accomplished anything so far, it is that it has raised awareness. Employers in New York City are hyper-focused on the issue of pay disparity between classes of employees. They’re looking at balancing out internal procedures and determining a better way to decide what to pay folks.”

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