Today is the third in a five-part blog series on New York’s sweeping changes to the legal landscape for Empire State employers. In prior posts, we covered limitations on the use of nondisclosure provisions in settlement and separation agreements and the new standards for litigating and defending harassment claims. Today, we will cover the expansion of New York’s equal pay law.
As part of New York’s overhaul of its existing anti-discrimination laws, legislators have expanded the scope of the state’s Equal Pay Act (N.Y. Labor Law § 194) to encompass all classes and characteristics protected by the New York State Human Rights Law. In addition, the new law lowers the standard of proof needed to establish pay discrimination. These changes will take effect 90 days after Governor Cuomo signs the legislation, which he is expected to do.
By way of background, federal and New York State law have, for decades, prohibited pay differentials between employees of the opposite sex who perform equal work. In 2015, New York amended its Equal Pay Act to limit an employer’s defenses against equal pay claims. The State also increased the amount of liquidated damages available to a prevailing plaintiff-employee in an equal pay lawsuit.