The “New York Promise Agenda” Promises to Increase Employee Protections

On January 9, 2017, New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo proposed a package of reforms to promote his vision of social justice within the state. The wide ranging set of proposals included two Executive Orders focused on eliminating the gender and race wage gap, which is one of the core stated goals of the New York Promise Agenda.

Executive Order No. 162  provides that for all New York State contracts, agreements, and procurements issued and executed on or after June 1, 2017, contractors and subcontractors will be required to disclose data on the job title and salary of all employees working on the contract, in addition to the equal employment opportunity information (including gender, race, and ethnicity) currently required. If the contractor cannot identify the employees who will be working on the contract, the required information must be submitted for the contractor’s entire workforce. Quarterly disclosures will be required for prime contracts having a value in excess of $25,000. Prime construction contracts having a value in excess of $100,000 will require disclosure on a monthly basis. Details on the form and manner of the required wage and demographic disclosures will be furnished by the New York State Department of Economic Development prior to June 1, 2017.

Executive Order No. 161 prohibits state employers from asking applicants about their current compensation or any prior compensation history until such time as the applicant is provided a conditional offer of employment with compensation. In other words, state employers cannot rely upon prior compensation in determining the compensation that would be initially offered to a new hire. While an applicant’s volunteering of compensation information will not be considered a violation of the Executive Order, an applicant’s refusal to provide the information cannot be considered in making an employment determination. A similar but even broader bar on requesting compensation history of an applicant is pending in New York City, and, if passed, would apply to private employers.

In announcing his New York Promise Agenda proposals, Governor Cuomo stated, “At these stormy times of instability and confusion, New York must serve as a safe harbor for the progressive principles and social justice that made America.” It seems that these Executive Orders are likely only the first steps to more employee protections in New York State.