Know your rights
Know your rights
You have the right to equal pay for “substantially similar” work.
Under state law, you have the right to equal pay for substantially similar work — regardless of your age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, sex, disability, genetic history, familial status, marital status, or domestic violence victim status. Whether work is substantially similar depends on the skill, effort, and responsibility the work requires, and whether the work is done under similar conditions.
Differences in pay are allowed based on seniority, merit, quantity, or quality of production, or a factor other than your protected class (i.e., your sex or race) such as education, training, or experience.
You have the right to discuss your pay with your coworkers.
Under state law, your employer cannot prohibit you from asking another employee about their pay, discussing your pay with another employee, or disclosing your pay to another employee. However, your employer may create reasonable limitations on when, where, and how those discussions take place. This protection helps to ensure transparency about pay so that you can more easily identify unlawful pay differences in your workplace.
You do not have to disclose your pay history.
Under state law, an employer or prospective employer cannot ask you, or your current or former employer, to provide your pay history as a condition to you being interviewed for a job, offered a job, or promoted in a job. This protection helps to ensure that even if you were not paid a fair wage in a previous position, that unfair wage will not limit your compensation in a new position.
You have the right to be free from intentional discrimination in compensation.
Federal, state, and local laws also prohibit intentional discrimination in compensation based on sex, race, religion, national origin, age, disability, and other protected classes. It is possible to have both an equal pay claim under the laws described above and a discrimination claim under federal, state, or local anti-discrimination law.
If you believe you have been discriminated against and would like to file a complaint, please consult an attorney and our office’s guidance on employment discrimination for information about your options and critical deadlines.
You are protected against retaliation.
It is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for complaining about unequal pay or discrimination, discussing pay with your co-workers, or not providing your pay history.
Filing a complaint
If you have experienced equal-pay violations, an employer has asked about your salary history or banned salary discussion at your workplace, or you have experienced related retaliation; you have several options in addition to filing your own lawsuit or complaining to your employer. You may:
- File a complaint with the New York State Office of the Attorney General Taskforce for Workers’ Equality:
212-416-8700 or TaskForceforWorkersEquality@ag.ny.gov, or complete a complaint form available online.
Please note: Making a complaint to the New York State Office of the Attorney General does not satisfy any other agency or court deadlines.
The New York State Office of the Attorney General investigates complaints and prosecutes cases alleging a pattern or policy of illegal behavior that affects many people. The office does not represent individuals, nor does it litigate cases against New York State agencies. However, if you believe that other job applicants or employees are experiencing similar rights violations by the same employer, please notify us by filing a complaint.
- File a complaint with the New York State Department of Labor, Division of Labor Standards:
1-888-4-NYSDOL or 1-888-469-7365
- File a complaint with the New York City Commission on Human Rights
718-722-3131 or visit the salary-history page of the New York City Commission on Human Rights.
New York State Office of the Attorney General Civil Rights Bureau
28 Liberty Street
New York NY 10005
Taskforce for Workers’ Equality
The information contained in this brochure is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide or be relied upon as legal advice in any particular situation.