Pay inequity is not a new issue, and many have been fighting for equal pay for decades. For example, it is common for a woman to earn 20 cents less than a man in the same position doing the same work. Lawmakers in Oregon recently passed a comprehensive employment law that holds employers accountable when they use race, gender or other protected classes as an excuse to pay unfair wages.
The state law went into effect in stages beginning in 2017. The first stage banned employers from requesting salary histories of job applicants before making a job offer. Employers then had time to adjust their pay scales up to fair standards. The beginning of 2019 was the deadline for that transition and provided workers the option of filing lawsuits if their employers did not conform.
The pay gap is especially evident among Latina women, who often earn half the salary of a man in the same job. Asian women typically fare better, earning up to 75 cents for every dollar earned by a man, but even that smaller gap is difficult to overcome. It often means women must work several jobs to pay their bills or remain in abusive relationships because they can’t afford to leave.
Oregon workers now have recourse to legal action if their employers fail to pay them a fair wage based on their race, religion, color, age, sexual orientation, gender or other protected class. Employees who believe they are paid less than their colleagues may wish to seek legal advice about how best to proceed. With the assistance of an employment law attorney, they may reach a positive outcome.