Empowering and Protecting Workers
The key to a strong economy starts with a workforce that is valued, respected, and paid fairly for the work they do. While the most far-reaching changes to empower and protect workers can come at the national level with passage of the Pro Act, there are some key things we can do right here in New York to put workers on a level playing field.
Give Workers Access to their Personnel Records
Knowledge is power, and there’s no better way to give power back to workers than to give them the right to access their own personnel records. This help create an open and transparent dialogue between employees and their supervisors while providing some recourse for employees to remove knowingly false or defamatory statements from their records. In providing a state right of action, this bill will also deter retaliatory use of personnel records to, for example, discredit or undermine employees who may later come into conflict with their employers.
Breaking Down the Barriers to Fair Pay
In New York, women earn on average 84 cents for every dollar a man earns. Women of color fare even worse, with Black women earning 66 cents for every dollar white men earn, and Hispanic women earning only 55 cents. These gaps exist regardless of age or level of education.
Ending the pay differentials between men and women requires more than seeking better pay for traditional “pink collar” jobs and changing historically gendered job titles. We have to also dismantle the systems that continue to allow women who have the same positions as men to be paid less by requiring all publicly listed job postings to include salary range information. That way, applicants for an advertised position will be able to cite the employment opportunity posting when discussing salary. This small change will empower job applicants because employers will not be able to dismiss information found on Glassdoor, CareerBliss or Indeed as a misrepresentation of reality.
Protecting Whistleblowers and Victims of Harassment
Workers who come forward to report malfeasance and victims of workplace discrimination such as sexual harassment will frequently find themselves the subjects of defamation suits for libel or slander as a result of filing internal complaints. These retaliatory tactics then have the desired effect of getting the victim to abandon his or her complaint or significantly delaying the investigation and adjudication of the underlying harassment as well as deterring future victims at the worksite from coming forward. My legislation would protect whistleblowers and victims of employment discrimination from libel or defamation suits when they file internal complaints about the discrimination they are experiencing from facing these frivolous suits.