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Legislative Memo

Frank Kerbein
Director, Center for Human Resources
T 518.465.7511 x210
www.bcnys.org

BILL:

A.3690 (Lifton) / S.399 (Krueger)

Support

SUBJECT:

Comparable Worth

 

DATE:

February 8, 2012

 

This legislation would amend New York State’s Executive Law, expanding the historic equal pay for equal work law to the theory of equal pay for different work called comparable worth.

The Business Council opposes this bill because:

Equal pay is already current law
For over 40 years, equal pay for equal work has been and continues to be the law for both public and private employers.  This issue is covered by the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and similar state statutes. These laws have created a vigorous standard and require employers to pay male and female, minority and non-minority employees the same wages if they are doing work “substantially equal” in skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions. These existing laws already prohibit any wage differentials based on the sex or race of the employee and therefore make it unnecessary to enact changes to the Executive law.

Market based wages are rejected
The theory of comparable worth rejects market involvement in the determination of pay and substitutes a so-called objective independent assessment of the “value” of the work. For example, while not specifically stated in the bill, the comparable worth concept considers wage differentials based on varying market rates for equivalent jobs to be a discriminatory practice, requiring an “equivalent” job in Manhattan to be paid the same as one in Horseheads. Vast numbers of employers use market based salary and wage surveys, which include geographic differentials, industry, revenue and organization size, to price their jobs.

Supply and Demand 
In a free market, the value of a job is determined by the supply and demand of workers in a given profession. Pay levels are the result of supply and demand. The higher the demand for the skill or service, the higher the pay and, likewise, the lower the demand, the lower the pay. All workers have the opportunity to strive for high demand jobs.

Comparable worth would replace the equality of opportunity with the equality of results, using legislation and government regulation.

For these reasons, The Business Council opposes this legislation and respectfully urges that it not be enacted by the New York State Legislature.