What you need to know about Colorado’s new ‘equal pay for equal work’ law

DENVER -- Gov. Jared Polis has signed into law something that progressive lawmakers have attempted for nearly 40 years to pass: equal pay for equal work. Most labor statistics indicate women get paid around 80 cents for every dollar a man makes in Colorado. For minority women, the statistics are even worse.

So, how does the new law impact you or your employer?

QUESTION #1

WILL AN EMPLOYER BE ABLE TO ASK YOUR CURRENT SALARY DURING AN INTERVIEW? 

No. The new law bans employers from inquiring about current salary information. The theory is that once a boss knows that information, they would likely offer you less.

Wendy Rockwell is a Colorado executive who discovered her male counterparts were making more.

"I was making anywhere from $30,000 to $80,000 less than my male colleagues with a higher amount of education and certification," Rockwell said in an interview following the Polis signing.

QUESTION #2

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU FIND OUT YOU ARE BEING UNDERPAID?

For the first time, an employee can take their employer directly to court and sue for three years' worth of back pay. The employee would have to do it within two years of discovering the pay gap. The new law also bans any form of retaliation for discussing your pay with other employees.

"This is the first time that an employee can actually hold their employer accountable," Sen. Jessie Danielson (D-Jefferson County) said.

QUESTION #3

DOES THIS MEAN EVERY EMPLOYEE WITH THE SAME TITLE NEEDS TO BE PAID THE SAME?

No. Employers can pay differently if they can prove salaries are based on merit, quality of work, seniority or even location.

QUESTION #4

WILL JOB POSTINGS CHANGE?

Yes. Job postings are expected to include salary ranges in the public and private sector. Additionally, when promotion opportunities open up within a company, they must be posted for all employees.

QUESTION #5

WHEN DOES THIS TAKE EFFECT?

Not until Jan. 1, 2021. The idea is for the state to give businesses enough time to prepare for the new law to be implemented.

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