Oregon Pay Equity Law


On June 1, 2017, Gov. Kate Brown signed into law HB 2005, which creates considerable new obligations and areas of liability for Oregon employers. The law prohibits pay discrimination on the basis of protected class, defined as race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, veteran status, disability or age. In other words, employers may not pay employees performing comparable work at different rates of pay because of their membership in one of these protected classes.


The law will further prohibit employers from screening job applicants based on current or past compensation and from determining compensation for a position based on a prospective employee's current or past compensation.


Employers will be able to inquire only about a job applicant's salary history after making a job offer including a compensation amount.


The law provides that employees performing comparable work may be compensated at different levels if the difference is based on a bonafide factor related to the position in question, including seniority, merit and production-related systems, as well as workplace locations, travel needs, education, training and/or experience. 


Employees will have a private right of action under the majority of the law beginning Jan. 1, 2019. They will have a private right of action under the provision prohibiting employers from inquiring into prospective employees' salary histories beginning Jan. 1, 2024.


It is a good idea for employers to conduct the "equal-pay analysis" referenced in the law—both to ensure legal compliance and to benefit from the defense to compensatory and punitive damages should an employee file suit. The law defines "equal-pay analysis" as "an evaluation process to assess and correct wage disparities among employees who perform work of comparable character." HR Answers has provided a summary for employers as to what they need to do to ensure compliance with this new law.


More information can also be gathered from the BOLI website.  BOLI will be providing administrative rules in the next few weeks, though no exact date of the release of the rules has been given as yet.