Understanding Colorado’s New Equal Pay Act
On May 22, 2019, Governor Jared Polis signed the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act into law. This new law has taken effect, and will greatly change payment practices and questions that can be asked during the hiring process for all employers. It will essentially work to end wage discrimination based on an employee’s gender identity so that all people earn the same wage for the same work performed within a company.
This act will require every employer to maintain records of job descriptions and wage rate history for each employee while they are employed for the company. They will need to keep these records for two years after the employment ends. This provision is in place to protect employees’ rights during civil lawsuits that allege an employer discriminated based on wage due to an employee’s gender.
It will also require all employers to announce employment advancement opportunities and job openings to all employees, regardless of gender. The law will also require employers to disclose the pay range for these openings to all employees.
Ways Employers Can Enact Wage Differential
The act only prohibits wage discrimination and discrepancy if it’s based on the gender of the employee in question. If an employer can prove the wage differential is based on one of the following factors, so long as the employer applies the factors reasonably and they account for the entire wage rate differential, then they are not in violation of this new law.
Below are the factors that employers can base wage differential on:
- A seniority system.
- A merit system.
- A system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production.
- The geographic location where the employee works.
- Education, training, or experience that are reasonably related to the work in question.
- Travel, if it is a regular and necessary condition of the job.
The Equal Pay Act Prohibits
During the hiring process, and onwards into the employment process, this act prohibits employers from performing many actions in regards to a candidate or employee’s wage rate history. The following list is all of the actions the new law prohibits an employer from taking:
- Seeking the wage rate history of a prospective employee.
- Requiring the disclosure of previous wage rates as a condition of employment.
- Relying on a prior wage rate to determine a current or future wage rate.
- Discriminating or retaliating against a prospective employee for failing to disclose their wage rate history.
- Firing or retaliating against a current employee for actions they took to assert their rights established in this law.
- Firing, disciplining, or discriminating against a current employee for choosing to disclose, inquire about, or discuss their wage rate.
- “Equal Pay for Equal Work Act.” Colorado General Assembly. Accessed 24 July 2019.
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