New Pay Equity Law – What Does it Mean for NY Employers?

Quinn: It’s 1-800-LAW-1010, Paul Harding from Martin, Harding & Mazzotti on the phone.

Cantera: Morning, Paul.

Paul: Hey, good morning, guys. Good morning.

Cantera: So, this isn’t going to affect Quinn and I, I don’t think, but there is a new law starting today, right?

Quinn: Well, what do you know about me?

Cantera: Pay equity law. You want to explain that to our audience?

Paul: Yes, so this has been coming for a while and they signed it into law. As you say, it’s in effect today, but it’s workers who perform substantially similar work must be paid equally under the law even if their jobs differ slightly. So it’s a little change from the current statute which kind of said, “Hey, if you’re doing the exact same thing, you got to get the exact same pay.” Now they’re saying, “Too much wiggle room there. If it’s substantially similar, there should be equal pay.”

Cantera: What if I have 30 years of experience and my female cohost has six months of experience? Does that matter?

Paul: So it is funny you say that. As I’m reviewing for this, this morning, last night I actually said a very similar message to HR. And I said, “We got to talk about this, you know?” I think implicit in there, what you said is correct, right, experience does count, but at some point, with this “substantially similar,” this six-month host and the 30-year host are going to have a very similar position. So, I know there’s some wiggle room there, but really kind of an unknown right now.

Cantera: But if I’m doing my job for 30 years getting my 3% pay increase year after year after year, and somebody starts at 21 years old with no experience, they get to jump right on board my 30 years of… I like the law, I don’t like that part of the law, I guess.

Quinn: There’s got to be some kind of sliding scale or something. And, you know, if they come right out of the gate and they start kicking ass, and they’re in that line of work, whatever it is that you’re in, you know, if they’re punching more license plates than Cantera’s punching or whatever right out of the gate, maybe they deserve more money. I don’t know how they work it out. I don’t get it.

Paul: And one of the things they talked about was that they’re gonna look at just…because a lot of this stuff happens, sort of, by accident, right? You just pay someone more because they’ve been there longer. You’re getting 3%, 4%, 4%, 4%. But if someone is coming in, doing the job, and by the time they get up to speed, I think there’s an argument here. And that was really the question that I had was, at some point, again, not the first six months maybe, but at some point, if their job is as valuable as yours and you know you’ve been there longer, what is the acceptable pay differential? I’m sure there’s going to be some, but maybe not substantially different.

Quinn: Interesting.

Cantera: If I’m a small business owner or a business owner, how much time do I have to ramp-up to this equal pay?

Quinn: It’s supposed to be slow, right?

Paul: Yeah, they said right in there, that it’s time to start looking at it, analyze it. Most people don’t think about it like that. But what will happen is, what always speeds these things up is there’s going to be a lawsuit, right? Someone’s going to bring a claim. It’s going to be against, probably not a small, it’s going to be against a major company and then we’re going to find out more about the law. It gets defined through the courts. So, yeah, I think, probably, it’s time to start looking at it, see something just, kind of, grossly inadequate, time to make an adjustment now.

Quinn: Gender pay gaps here in the state of New York are a little bit smaller than other states.

Cantera: So it’s not that big of a change if, say, we were in another state and they’d pass the law.

Paul: Yeah.

Quinn: You’ve got to close that [inaudible 00:03:22], close it up, though.

Paul: You got to close it up.

Quinn: Paul Harding from Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, 1-800-LAW-1010,

Cantera: If I’m a business owner, Paul, and I need more information, who’s going to explain this to me?

Paul: Yeah, so it’s on their website, you know, of course, you get the statutes there, which could be a little bit unclear, but the fair practice labor of New York State agency does have information that is either out or coming out. They, sort of, announced that it would be on their website. You know, you don’t really get a legal consultation. You just get their, sort of, definition of where they want you to be looking. And as I said, it’s tricky. Court cases will come out and that’s how we learn the most.

Quinn: All right, very good, sir. Thanks, Paul.

Cantera: Great explanation, Paul. Thanks, man.

Paul: All right, guys, talk soon.

Quinn: All right, it’s Paul Hardy right there. Quinn & Canterra, PYX 106.