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Expanded Equal Pay Laws & Pay Equity

On July 10, 2019, New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo signed legislation expanding the protections of New York’s Pay Equity Law, which previously required equal pay for women and men performing “equal work.”

The expanded pay equity law now mandates equal pay among employees who perform “substantially similar” work, when considering skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions. “Substantially similar” work as defined by state law is broader and more inclusive than the definition of “equal work” under the previous state law and federal law. This means that employers cannot rely on comparisons among those who share the same title to ensure pay equity.

The expanded law also requires equal pay among all protected groups, not just between members of the opposite sex. Protected status includes age, race, creed, color, gender identity or expression, military status, disability, genetic characteristics, familial status, marital status, domestic violence victim status, or other status protected by law.

These amendments will take effect on October 8, 2019.

Next Steps

Conduct an internal audit of your organization’s pay practices. HR Works recommends that employers engage the assistance of a labor attorney to conduct the audit. A knowledgeable attorney can offer valuable guidance on correcting pay disparities, the timing of making pay corrections, and how-to rollout the corrections. Additionally, for employers who discover pay disparities, there is also the added benefit of communicating under attorney-client privilege where possible. An internal audit should include the following:

  • A review of pay rates based on groupings or classes of jobs, rather than individual positions. The analysis should encompass the wage rates among employees who hold different, though “substantially similar,” roles.
  • A review of the organization’s merit rewards programs to ensure that pay increases are set based on job-related factors that are consistent with business necessity.
  • An examination of pay disparities and a determination as to whether the differences in pay are based on factors such as geography; a seniority system; a merit system; a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or a bona fide factor other than protected class, such as education, training, or experience.
  • Take steps to remedy pay disparities where pay differentials cannot be explained by one or more lawful justifications under the law. In most instances, this will require adjustments to compensation.

HR Works Can Help

Employers who would like information on attorneys that can assist with an audit of their pay practices may contact the Virtual Helpline at 585-381-8340 Opt. 1 or via email at

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HR Works, Inc., headquartered at 200 WillowBrook Office Park in Fairport (Rochester), New York, with an office in East Syracuse, is a human resource management outsourcing and consulting firm serving clients throughout the United States. HR Works provides scalable strategic human resource management and consulting services, including: affirmative action programs; benefits administration outsourcing; HRIS self-service technology; full-time, part-time and interim on-site HR managers; HR audits; legally reviewed employee handbooks and supervisor manuals; talent management and recruiting services; and training of managers and HR professionals.