Colorado

Striking Out the “Catch-All”: Growing Number of States Narrow Affirmative Defenses for Employers in Pay Equity Cases

The federal Equal Pay Act (EPA) and its many state analogs require equal pay for equal (or, in some states, “substantially similar”) work.  The EPA contains a so-called “catch-all” defense to equal pay claims, permitting wage differentials if employers can show that they are “based on any factor other than [protected category].”  But this catch-all defense has been under scrutiny in courts and legislatures around the country. As we recently reported, an en banc Ninth Circuit rejected an employer’s argument that sole reliance on prior pay could be a “factor other than sex” within the meaning of the EPA. The Ninth Circuit’s finding is an outlier among circuit courts in this respect, but it fits a broader trend to narrow the “catch-all” affirmative defense, particularly at the state level. READ MORE

Legislative Update: States Continue to Update and Refine Their Pay Equity Laws

2019 is not even two months old and already there are significant developments in equal pay legislation. As we explained recently, there is proposed federal legislation that reignites the battle to pass the “Paycheck Fairness Act.” And now states are getting in on the action with a flurry of legislative activity around pay equity issues – particularly among legislatures that saw a change in party control as a result of the November elections. In fact, a number of states have introduced a variety of pay equity proposals, making clear that salary history bans and wage discussion protections are here to stay. Proposed new legislation also looks to refine the bona fide factors that employers may consider in setting pay, as well as remedies available under the pay laws. READ MORE