Effective June 7th, the new Washington State Equal Pay Opportunity Act went into effect. Although the original law was established in 1943, the new regulations on equal pay ensure that all employees, regardless of gender, receive equal pay and career advancement opportunities.
The new law has established criteria and has defined “similarly employed” as it relates to equal compensation for workers. “Similarly employed
” means workers who are doing work for the same employer under similar conditions with similar skills, effort and responsibility must receive equal compensation.
Another component of equal pay and opportunity law entails that employers cannot stop their employees from disclosing their wages to others, nor can they require workers to sign non-disclosure agreements about their wages.
The law also protects workers from retaliation and firing for talking about wages with coworkers, and for asking the employer to provide a reason for the employee’s wage or lack of opportunity for advancement.
The new law is enforced by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I), the government body that will be responsible for handling and receiving complaints and investigating potential violations.
Employees can file complaints with L&I about gender discrimination at work. The agency will investigate complaints, and can charge employers fines, damages and interest when violations are found. Employees can also take legal action against an employer.
For more information about the new law or to file a complaint, go to www.Lni.wa.gov/EqualPay or contact L&I’s Employment Standards program at 360-902-4930 or esgeneral@Lni.wa.gov.
Should employers need support in reviewing their current pay practices or pay structure, they may contact JB Consulting Systems to discuss.