Equal pay for men and women is hardly a given. In fact, the gender gap remains stable at around 82% despite widespread awareness.
One of the reasons for that may be the lack of guidance and enforcement when it comes to equalizing pay between sexes. The Colorado legislature recently took action on that front.
A law to support equality
Wage disparities are complex. On one hand, the employer may believe that the wage is fair based on real business concerns. On the other, the employee generally sees lower wages as part of a pattern of systematic discrimination.
The recent pay equality law has potential implications for both sides. The employer side gets a finer definition of the criteria on which it may argue that wages are fair. Some potential grounds for a reasonable wage differential could include differences in:
- Education or training
- Individual merit
- Quality or quantity of work
As far as employees’ arguments go, the act provides various potential workplace protections for discussing wages or asserting rights. It also sets record-keeping requirements for employers and implements a presumption that would typically favor an employee’s sex discrimination case.
A better wage for the future
It is apparent from the data that wage differentials are steady. This fact puts women at a disadvantage when it comes to certain ways of determining compensation.
The Act addresses this directly by explicitly prohibiting employers to make hiring decisions based on wage history. In fact, they cannot even require this information as a condition of employment. During or after establishing the employment relationship, they also cannot retaliate against employees for nondisclosure or base pay rates on pay history.
This legislation could be a material step toward wage equality. Before that happens systemically, individual aggrieved workers would have to attempt to use these protections.