Oregon Equal Pay Act of 2017 Prohibits Employers from Screening Applicants Based on Salary History

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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On June 1, 2017, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed into law the Oregon Equal Pay Act of 2017 (HB 2005) which will prohibit employers from screening job applicants based on past or current salary history or seeking information about past or current salary history from job applicants before making them an offer of employment that includes an amount of compensation.

The Act also addresses salary disparities among protected classes that include race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, veteran status, disability, and age. Employers cannot “in any manner discriminate between employees on the basis of a protected class in the payment of wages or other compensation for work of comparable character.” In addition, employers may not:

  • Screen job applicants based on current or past salary history;
  • Determine salary for a position based on applicant’s current or past salary history;
  • Reduce the salary of any employee to comply with the Act; or
  • Seek the salary history of an applicant or employee from the applicant or employee or his or her current or former employer. An employer is permitted to request an applicant for written authorization to confirm prior salary after the employer makes him or her an offer of employment that includes an amount of compensation.

Under the Oregon Equal Pay Act of 2017, employers may pay employees different salary for comparable work only if the difference is due to a bona fide factor related to the position based on: a seniority system; a merit system; a system measuring earnings by quantity or quality of production; workplace locations; travel; education; training; or experience. The full text of the Act is available here.

The majority of the Oregon Equal Pay Act of 2017 is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2019. The provision that makes it unlawful for an employer to request the salary history of an applicant “takes effect on the 91st day after the date on which the 2017 regular session of the Seventy-ninth Legislative Assembly adjourns,” meaning enforcement will likely begin in September 2017.

As reported earlier by ESR News in April 2017, the New York City Council passed legislation – Introduction 1253-2016 – that prohibits employers from inquiring about the salary history of job applicants during the hiring process and also from relying on salary history information to determine salary if that information is already known. The law will take effect 180 days after its enactment date of May 4, 2017.

In January 2017, ESR News reported that Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney signed Bill No. 160840, a wage equity law that prohibits employers from inquiring about the salary history of job applicants. The law took effect May 23, 2017. In August 2016, ESR News also reported that Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed S.2119, An Act to Establish Pay Equity that will take effect on July 1, 2018.

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