Kate Brown, the Oregon Governor, signed H.B. 2005 into law on June 1, 2017. The passed law is also known as the Oregon Equal Pay Act of 2017. The law involves the restrictions that have been in place on salary history inquiries, expanding the remedies that exist for all the employees and the safe harbor given to volunteer employers who have assessed their payment practices to eliminate any discriminatory policies.
The Oregon Equal Pay Act gained a significant bipartisan vote of confidence and it was unanimously passed in the Oregon Senate just before it was re-passed unanimously by the House, with the Senate amendments.
The H.B 2005 Law and Employee Compensation
The new law expands upon the existing federal and Oregon state law that already provides protections for specific classes of people with regard to equal pay. It is the aim of the Oregon Equal Pay Act to minimize persistent payment gaps between races, genders, and the rest of the individuals in other protected classes by empowering and encouraging all employers to assess their payment practices proactively. Specifically, there was a replacement of the provisions for the equal payment of all sexes in the existing law to offering protection to protected classes.
The Oregon Equal Pay Act has it that there should be zero discrimination, no matter the case, from the employer to employees who are under a protected class in regards to the payment of wages or any other compensation for their work.
The key provision is that all employers should be careful not to ask the applicant how much she or he is being paid at the moment when determining what he or his salary will be in the future. The employers can pay the employees commensurate with the work of a similar character. Employers can compensate employees differently only if the difference is based on merit systems, experience, training, education, travel and exposure, the locations of the workplace, and/or seniority systems.
Violations of the Equal Pay Act by an employer may make them liable to the employees for unpaid compensation. Filing a complaint with Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) by the employee is one of the ways to seek redress; filing a lawsuit directly against the employer is another way. There are no specific requirements needed to mandate the filing of a complaint with BOLI before bringing the lawsuit.
If you have further questions or believe you may need to file legal action against an employer, do not hesitate to contact HKM Employment Attorneys for more information on employment matters. We can answer your questions and provide consultations. Our website and phone lines are open 24/7.