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Oregon’s Equal Pay Law: What Employers Need to Know

With most of the requirements of the 2017 Equal Pay Act now in effect in Oregon, it is crucial to ensure your business complies with its requirements.

The bill, which entered into effect Jan. 1, 2019, prohibits discrimination in wages on the basis of an employee’s status as a member of any “protected class.” Protected classes include race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability status and more. The law requires employers to pay employees who perform work of a “comparable character” equally. Employers must prove all compensation differentials are based on bona fide factors related to the position.

There are several steps businesses can take to ensure they are in compliance with the law:

Conduct an equal pay analysis. Create an evaluation process to assess and correct wage disparities among employees who perform work of a comparable character.
Evaluate your employees’ compensation. Be able to articulate several factors that influence each employee’s compensation. Consider seniority, skills, effort, responsibilities, etc.
If necessary, adjust salaries. If you discover a pay discrepancy, you must raise the salary of the lower-paid person. You may not lower the other person’s salary.
Do not question job applicants about their salary history. The law prohibits employers from inquiring about job applicants’ salary history.
Do not discourage employees from discussing compensation with one another. The law protects employees who want to discuss their compensation with one another.
The law applies to all forms of compensation, including salary, benefits and bonuses.

Chenoweth Law Group provides compliance advice to employers in all aspects of employment law and acts as trial counsel in employment cases.

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