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New Amendments to Employee Right to Equal Pay and Opportunities Act Take Effect July 28th

Washington State has had on its books since 2018 a law titled the Employee Rights to Equal Pay and Opportunities Act (EPOA).


Under this law, employers must provide equal compensation to similarly employed workers (with some exceptions unrelated to gender). In addition, the existing law also provides for equal advancement opportunities regardless of gender.


On July 28th, 2019, new amendments to the provisions signed into law in May of 2019 go into effect. These provisions add further requirements to employers during the hiring process, the first of which is a salary history ban. The new amendment to EPOA bars employers from seeking a job applicant’s wage or salary history either directly from the applicant or indirectly from the applicant’s employer. In short, a prospective employer can not ask someone what they made in their last job and offers must be based on the role in consideration and not a person’s past salary. This is due in part to the existing gender disparity in pay (this study by the American Association of University Women found that women make 80% of what men do for the same jobs). By basing salary on past wages, employers may inadvertently be continuing the pay gap. This salary ban applies to all Washington employers.

Another newly enacted provision concerns the disclosure of salary ranges. When an applicant makes a request for the salary range for the job for which they have been offered, employers must provide this information. In addition, employers must also provide upon request the salary range to current employees whenever those employees are offered internal transfers, new positions, or promotions.  Companies with fewer than 15 employees are exempt from this requirement.

The full text of the law and amendments can be found here.

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