Equal pay becomes Colorado law. Here’s what it means for companies.

Gov. Jared Polis signed equal pay legislation into law Wednesday, but it won’t take effect for some other 19 months, departure Colorado employers with time to limit their legal liability before 2021.

“We are fighting for women to be treated with the dignity, fairness and respect they deserve,” aforementioned Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, a Denver Democrat, after the governor’s bill sign language. “This new law is a Colorado solution that strikes a balance between workers and employers.”

Senate Bill 85 contained several business-friendly amendments that will safeguard some companies from suits and give them ample time to come into compliance by moving enactment back to Jan. 1, 2021.

The new law allows workers who believe they are being paid less due to their gender to file a suit inside two years. Employers found to have paid person less due to their gender must pay the amount the worker would have made the previous three years if there had not been discrimination.

There is a good-faith exception, however. The law says courts should not award extra payments to workers if the wage difference was unintentional. It even tells companies how to prove good faith: by complementary a thorough pay audit inside its work force in the years before being sued.

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Brian Ayers, an employment law attorney with Employers Council, says he is advising works to conduct audits now and rectify any pay disparities before there is legal action. “It’s rare when we do one of these pay analyses that you actually find deliberate discrimination or deliberate efforts” to discriminate, he aforementioned.

For that reason, the new law’s chief accomplishment may be in forcing employers to rectify gender pay disparities on their own, rather than arduous companies for those disparities. There are besides a number of exceptions that allow disparities due to seniority and merit, geographic differences, education, training and experience, or if some workers travel more than others.

Other changes in the law will require smaller adjustments. Job openings must be announced inside a work and include the position’s wage range. Bosses cannot ask a job applier for their wage history or retaliate against those who refuse to say how much money they have made.

“We are sensing some worry, and a lot of that is because there’s a lot in the bill that’s not familiar right now for employers,” aforementioned Ayers. “The biggest source of fear right now is that we don’t know what we don’t know.”

The House passed Senate Bill 85 on April 27 by a party-line vote of 40-21. The Senate passed it three years later by a vote of 21-14 with two Republicans connection all Democrats in favor.

Several Republican women argued that a strong work ethic, not a government mandate, best ensures equal pay. Rep. Perry Buck, R-Windsor, aforementioned she doesn’t believe women are victims.