By Michael White, HR Outsourcing Manager, Trüpp.
The Oregon Pay Equity law makes it unlawful to:
- Discriminate (based on an employee’s status as a member of protected class) in the payment of wages or other compensation for work of comparable character
- Pay wages or other compensation to any employee at a rate greater than other (protected) employees performing work of comparable character
- Consider current or past pay when screening job applicants or making compensation decisions
- Seek pay history of a job applicant prior to making an offer
What does work of a “comparable character” mean?
Work of a comparable character includes duties that require substantially similar knowledge, skill, effort, responsibility, and take place in similar working conditions. While some jobs may have similar titles, that does not necessarily mean that they are of a comparable character.
Do I have to pay all my managers the same wage?
Even if all management positions require work of a comparable character, the statute allows certain bona fide factors which employers may use to justify differences in compensation.
- A system measuring quality or quantity of work (for example, piece rate)
- Work location
What do I do if an applicant discloses their current or past salary during an interview?
Let the candidate know that their salary history will not be a factor in determining any offer of compensation for the position, and document that you informed them of this in your interview notes.
What are the consequences if I’m found to be in violation?
Beginning January 1, 2019, employees can file claims with BOLI for back pay. Starting January 1, 2024, employees may also file civil suits and seek compensatory and punitive damages, injunctive relief, attorney fees, and court costs in addition to back pay.
What can I do to prepare for the Pay Equity law?
There are a few steps you should take right away:
- Make sure all your job descriptions are accurate and align with the work that employees are actually doing – job titles are not as important as actual job duties
- Develop a compensation framework that defines how pay decisions are made
- Update your hiring practices to not be reliant on knowing an applicant’s pay history; determine in advance what you are going to pay for the position based on your internal compensation structure
- Avoid making exceptions or one-off pay decisions
- Perform an equal-pay analysis