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Pay Equity Bill Introduced in Colorado Senate

    January 17, 2019

    Pay Equity Bill Introduced in Colorado Senate

    On January 17, 2019, Senators Brittany Pettersen and Jessie Danielson introduced Senate Bill 19-085, “Equal Pay for Equal Work.” The bill would prohibit discrimination in wages based on sex, similar to the federal Equal Pay Act, but would apply to all employers in Colorado. Wage differentials based on sex would be prohibited unless the employer could prove that the differential is the result of a seniority system, a merit system, or a system that measures earnings by quality or quantity of production, and that this was done reasonably and that prior wage history was not relied on to justify the wage differentials.

    The bill would also prohibit an employer from inquiring about compensation history of job applicants, a concept that has been introduced in previous legislative sessions, but has not passed.

    The Department of Labor would not have enforcement authority. The bill creates a private right of action for employees subjected to pay discrimination or retaliation, including economic damages (the difference in pay), liquidated damages in the amount of the economic damages, equitable relief (such as reinstatement and pay increase), costs, and attorneys’ fees. If the employer proves that it acted in good faith, the court needs not award liquidated damages.

    In addition, the bill would require employers to announce all “advancement opportunities,” job openings, and the pay range. The Department of Labor would have enforcement authority over this part of the law and could impose fines between $500 and $10,000 per violation. There is no private cause of action for this part of the bill.

    A hearing has not yet been set. COSHRM will be considering whether to oppose, support or take no position on this bill (update as of Feb. 15: COSHRM opposes the bill as currently drafted). Individuals may make their feelings known by writing to their representatives or senators and attending or testifying at congressional hearings (when they are set). More information can be found at: SHRM members may also contact their chapter Legislative Directors. This and other employment-related bills will be discussed at COSHRM’s Day at the Capitol event, which is scheduled for April 9, 2019 (more information to come).

    Questions? Contact COSHRM's Legislative Director, Colin Walker.