Tag Archives: Public policy

The New York City Council and the Gender Pay Gap

 The New York City Council and the Gender Pay Gap
Edwina Frances Martin, Esq.
ESVB Public Policy Co-VP

Over the last several years the New York City Council has passed several pieces of legislation to address barriers women face in the workplace:

·      The Pregnancy Rights Discrimination Act (requiring reasonable accommodation in the workplace for pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions);
·      Paid Sick Leave (requiring a minimum of 5 paid sick days for workers);
·      The Credit Check Discrimination Bill (barring the use of credit checks for potential employees in jobs not directly related to financial matters); and
·      The Caregivers Discrimination Bill (protecting those who care for ill children/parents/spouses/partners from discrimination in the workplace based on their status as a caregiver).

Most of these bills were passed last term, but this term a number of important bills have also been passed. One important bill, introduced by Public Advocate Letitia James, is the NYC Salary History Bill.

Salary history has become an important issue in the fight to end the gender wage gap. Why? This practice perpetuates the wage gap that many women and people of color face. It assumes that prior salaries were fairly established at your previous employers. If you faced a pay gap and lost wages at your last job, due to bias or discrimination, your new employer is now continuing the cycle. Salary history questions can introduce bias and discrimination into the recruitment process of a company that may be sincerely attempting to avoid it.

Employers should pay what the position is worth to their organization and not base compensation on a worker’s worth in a different job with a different company. If a woman starts her career with a pay gap, it’s likely to follow her throughout her life and negatively affect her retirement.
On November 4th, 2016, Mayor de Blasio got the ball rolling in New York City by issuing an executive order banning city agencies from asking for salary history of potential employees until after a job with salary has been offered. The Salary History bill builds on this by banning all employers from inquiring about a job applicant’s prior salary and using it to set future wages.

The Women’s Caucus of the NYC Council rolled out a legislative platform this term, the first time this body has done so.

One piece of legislation in the package would support the Salary History bill by asking the state legislature to enact similar legislation and the governor to sign it – Resolution 1273.

Another piece of the platform, Int. 825, would expand the definition of employer under the human rights law to provide protections for domestic workers, 95% of whom are women. Under our human rights law an employer is defined as having 4 or more employees; Int 825 would create an exception for domestic workers so that the definition is one employee, thus giving them the full force of the protections of NYC’s strong human rights law.

Other bills in the platform include legislation which has now been adopted – regarding the Rikers nursery program, providing free feminine hygiene products to students in NYC schools, and requiring the city to create a comprehensive plan to address the needs of unpaid caregivers – those caring for ill children, parents, siblings, partners, who are overwhelmingly women.

The package also includes legislation that has been introduced to create a task force to address affordability at CUNY, and to support state legislation which would help victims of domestic violence with the difficult task of breaking a lease.

The Women’s Caucus
Equality Legislative Package

The New York City Council Women’s Caucus is a 14-member body led by Co-Chairs and Council Members Laurie A. Cumbo and Helen Rosenthal.* The mission of the caucus is to focus the work of the city council on issues that impact women and families.

On November 29, 2016, the caucus announced a package of legislation it is supporting which will advance issues that affect all people, with a unique focus on women. The package includes legislation to expand women’s rights in areas including: health, education, safety, labor and empowerment.

The Equality Legislative Package includes:

Council Member Barron Create a task force to review affordability, admissions, and graduation rates at CUNY (Int 1138)
Council Member Chin Produce a comprehensive plan to address the needs of unpaid caregivers (Local Law 97)
Council Member Crowley Report on the use of long-acting reversible contraceptives, IUDs (Int 1162)
Council Member Cumbo Implement sexual assault awareness/prevention training, TLC drivers (Int 1106)
Council Member Dickens** Review cosmetic toxicity (Resolution)***
Council Member Ferreras-Copeland Provide feminine hygiene products available at no cost to students while on DOE premises (Local Law 84)
Council Member Gibson Report procedures and policies for the Rikers Island nursery program (Local Law 120)
Council Member Mendez Street co-naming for Ms. Magazine original headquarters (Int )***
Council Member Cabrera/Palma Support a NY state bill which prohibits employers asking salary history (Resolution 1273-2016)
Council Member Rose Expand the definition of employer under the human rights law to provide protections for domestic workers (Int 825)
Council Member Rosenthal Support a NY state bill which provide DV survivors greater access to breaking leases (Resolution 1292-2016)

 *Members of the NYC Council Women’s Caucus include council members: Laurie Cumbo and Helen Rosenthal (Co-Chairs); Margaret Chin; Rosie Mendez; Melissa Mark-Viverito (Speaker); Vanessa L. Gibson; Anabel Palma; Julissa Ferreras-Copeland; Karen Koslowitz; Elizabeth S. Crowley; Darlene Mealy; Inez Barron; Debi Rose.
**Elected to the NYS Assembly in 2016
***Legislation has not been introduced

The Salary History Bill
Int. No. 1253

By the Public Advocate (Ms. James), Council Members Crowley, Cumbo, Rosenthal, Salamanca, Lander, Ferreras-Copeland, Williams, Richards, Palma, Dromm, Rose, Reynoso, Gibson, Espinal, Cornegy, Kallos, Koslowitz, Rodriguez, Levine, Menchaca, Constantinides, Treyger, Torres, Miller, Mendez, Maisel, Chin, Barron, Mealy, Cohen, King, Levin and Eugene

A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to prohibiting employers from inquiring about or relying on a prospective employee’s salary history

Be it enacted by the Council as follows:
Section 1. Section 8-107 of the administrative code of the city of New York is amended by adding a new subdivision 25 to read as follows:
25.  Employment; prospective employee salary history. (a) It is an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer, employment agency, employee or agent thereof:
1.  To inquire, in writing or otherwise, about the salary history, including, but not limited to, compensation and benefits, of an applicant for employment. For purposes of this subdivision, “to inquire” means to ask an applicant in writing or otherwise or to conduct a search of publicly available records or reports.
2.  To rely on the salary history of an applicant for employment in determining the salary amount for such applicant at any stage in the employment process, including the contract, unless such applicant, unprompted, willingly disclosed such salary history to such employer, employment agency, employee or agent thereof.
(b)  This subdivision does not apply to any actions taken by an employer, employment agency, employee or agent thereof pursuant to any federal, state or local law that authorizes the disclosure or verification of salary history for employment purposes.

  • 2. This local law takes effect 120 days after it becomes law.

Public Policy

Lobbying Legislators by Cell Phone
Nancy Mion, AAUW ESVB Public Policy Director

We live in a democracy. The dictionary defines the word thusly-DEMOCRACY –noun– A system of government in which power is vested in the people, who rule either directly or through freely elected representativess. Abraham Lincoln said in his Gettysburg Address … government of the people, by the people and for the people… It is as true now as it was 154 years ago.

We elect those who create and pass the laws that determine how we must act. They need to know what we, AAUW members, believe to be the best course of action for the people of our great nation. We, the members of ESVB AAUW, believe in gender equity. We can work to achieve this by being informed and by taking action to be certain that those who represent us know how we feel about pending legislation and governmental actions related to those issues.

Public Policy is one of the areas, where being a Virtual Branch is most effective. Often action to support our Mission of equity for women and girls needs to be taken immediately. The weekly Washington Update, to which I hope you subscribe, gives you the latest Public Policy news and updates from AAUW.

AAUW Public Policy has developed a new way to stay informed and active. It is the Two-Minute Activists mobile. This exciting new tool delivers timely, targeted communication straight to your cell phone via text message and offers other important advocacy features such as the ability to connect with your legislators’ offices by phone. That means AAUW can provide you with strategic opportunities to take action right when your advocacy can make the biggest impact. Your text message from AAUW will make it easy for you to call your US Legislators’ office by phone. After you dial the number given you’ll hear a brief introduction before being automatically routed to the appropriate office. Remember to identify yourself as a constituent, and then ask your legislator to take the desired action.

Ready to take your advocacy to the next level?

Go to http://www.aauw.org/resource/two-minute-activist-mobile/  Complete the form there and opt in to the Two Minute Activists mobile. — or simply text the word “AAUW” to phone number 21333.

Once you sign up for the Two Minute Activist mobile you can advocate for gender equity wherever you go. You provide the voice — AAUW provides the megaphone.


Public Policy



  • 1st Female and African-American becomes the Chief Librarian of the Library of Congress
  • 1st Native American woman, a Hopi Tribe member, is confirmed a US District Court Judge
  • 1st Woman elected Speaker of the Iowa House of Representatives


  • Provision for paid sick days was passed in Vermont, the fifth state to do so.
  • Sexual Assault Survivors Act became law of the land. Among other things it gives the, 25 million and growing, survivors the right to have a rape kit kept for the case’s statute of limitations.
  • WW II Women’s Airforce Service Piolets right to inurnment in Arlington National Cemetery was restored by Act of Congress. An AAUW member was actively involved.


  • The US Supreme Court upheld affirmative action.


  • Department of Justice plans to train 28,000 of its employees on implicit bias.


  • The Sewell-Belmont House in Washington, DC, home of the Suffragist National Women’s Party, is now a National Monument called the Belmont-Paul House, giving it more protection and money


  • Automatic online voter registration in 4 states. States vary in how it is done. In CA it is done when registering for state college; In CT & OR when renewing or getting a license; a person can opt out in these three states; In CO they can register with a text message.

It is great to see these strides taken toward gender equity in the United States. Let us each help further this movement by resolving to write, email or call a legislator about an AAUW issue in 2017.


Nancy Mion, ESVB Public Policy Director

Public Policy

Cases Settled!

by Nancy Mion, Public Policy Director
Empire State Virtual NY Branch

It is exciting to know that three cases supported by LAF have been recently settled. The cases are: Moshak, Mason, Schlosser vs University of Tennessee which was successfully settled for over a million dollar in January 2016 found; Jaureguito and Wartluff finally settled with Feather River Community College after ten years. Check the LAF Webpage at http://aauw-nys.org/laf_casesupport.htm and the Spring 2016 Focus.

Thank you to the following members of the Empire State Virtual NY Branch for their generous contribution to LAF Fund: Dorothy McLane; Heide Parreno, Chigurupati Rani & Maria Ellis.


UN Announces First-ever High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment

 by Donna Seymour
AAUW NYS Public Policy VP

The United Nations announced the first High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment. The panel will give recommendations for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to improve economic outcomes for women globally and improve women’s leadership in sustainable economic growth.

“The empowerment of the world’s women is a global imperative,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “Yet despite important progress in promoting gender equality, there remains an urgent need to address structural barriers to women’s economic empowerment and full inclusion in economic activity. If the world is to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we need a quantum leap in women’s economic empowerment.”



What is happening in Diversity?


Heide Parreño
Diversity Director
Empire State Virtual Branch

In September 2015,  Governor Andrew Cuomo  announced a new “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion policy” for the State University of New York . It was immediately adopted by the SUNY Board of Trustees. The plan  requires  a chief diversity officer in each of the 64 SUNY campuses. The officer will   promote inclusiveness and implement best practices for diversity.  Included in the policy’s plan is a tool where students can voluntarily self identify their sexual orientation and gender identity. The goal of the plan is to define diversity broadly to include race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. It also includes more options for registering age, socioeconomic status, status as a veteran, disabilities, first generation students and whether or not a student plans to work on or off campus while in school. The policy includes plans to increase diversity among students faculty and staff. ((Democrat and Chronicle, Saturday, September12, 2015, p. 9a)

There has been a surge of protests nationally from colleges and universities about racial discrimination and lack of diversity. Across the nation, students demand an end to systemic and structural racism on campus. The top 7 most common demands at 51 U.S campuses are: 1). Increase diversity of professors, 2) require diversity training, 3) fund cultural centers, 4) require classes for students, 5) increase diversity of students, 6) track race related offenses, and 7) expand mental health resources. These has been collected on a website called THE DEMANDS.


Locally, in Rochester, New York, the University of Rochester medical students focused their protest on racism as a public health concern. “ We, as future physicians, could not stay silent because we know that medicine is not immune to the racism that is rooted in our education, housing, employment and criminal justice system.” Guylda Richard, president of the Student national medical education.

Where is AAUW in all of these?

On December 15, 2015,  a Webinar was held to take a first look at AAUW’s New Tool Kit.
How many of NYS Board of Directors attended, branch leaders, diversity officers?
What is a follow-up in public policy?
Where do we get the information?

At ESVB we continue to have a Facebook page. I recruited a new member of our diversity team.  Her name is Dr. Doris Meadows. I will do a formal introduction in our next newsletter. I welcome suggestions for our diversity team and active participation in our membership in diversity and inclusion.

More Complaints Than Findings!

by Donna Seymour
AAUW NYS Public Policy VP

Education Department has received more than 1,000 filings on racial harassment in higher ed in last seven years. But only a fraction result in any findings.

In an op-ed this month on rising racial tensions on campus, Education Secretary Arne Duncan noted that in his seven years in office, the department’s Office for Civil Rights has received more than 1,000 complaints about racial harassment in higher education. He said this statistic was an indication that the current concerns about race on campus are “no small issue.”

Duncan didn’t note how small a proportion of those complaints have resulted in findings of discrimination. Most of the complaints, in fact, never result in a complete investigation by OCR, let alone a finding. That isn’t necessarily a sign of weak complaints or of poor enforcement by OCR. A review of more information provided by the Education Department, however, may illustrate why students are turning to campus protests and not to Washington with their grievances.

During the Obama administration, the Education Department has received 1,073 complaints about racial harassment in higher education. Generally, the number of complaints a year is up, compared to prior years. Since 2010, the smallest number of complaints in a fiscal year is 137 (in 2010). In the five years prior to the Obama administration, the number of complaints never exceeded 95 and was generally smaller than that (in the 50s). An increase in complaints does not necessarily mean that the situation on campus is worse, since a variety of factors (such as outreach to encourage complaints, or the government signaling interest in enforcement) can be a factor in the number of complaints.




This is how AAUW was involved in educating our New Yorkers, citizens and lawmakers, about the policies needed to advance our mission in fiscal 2014. These efforts were supported by your generous donations.

  • AAUW Action Fund Lobby Corps made 43 visits to members of Congress from NYS.
  • AAUW public policy staff provided materials for 36 events in NYS, including 26 Equal Pay Day events.
  • AAUW staff, NYS members & members of Congress held a Women’s Economic Agenda event with Leader Pelosi and U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney
  • New Yorkers sent 20,744 messages to Congress and the president through the Two-Minute Activist.
  • AAUW Action Network provided free access in NY for alerts on NYS issues and events.
  • An AAUW Impact Grant of $1,000 plus Public Policy staff resources was awarded to NYS for action on behalf of safer campus climates and paid sick days in NYS.

Use your voice, your hand and your heart; utilize your phone, your computer and your money to Make a Difference.

Nancy Mion AAUW ESVB Public Policy Chair

Voter Registration Deadline Oct. 12

AAUW branches across the country are registering voters, participating in candidate forums, sharing information about candidates’ positions on issues that impact women, girls, and families. Read more about GOTV (Getting out the vote) on the Public Policy page.

How do you think that a virtual branch like Empire can participate in GOTV?

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