April 4, 2019
Denver, CO – The Colorado State Senate today voted 20-to-14 to pass SB19-085, the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, a bill sponsored by Senators Jessie Danielson (D-Wheat Ridge) and Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood) that would prevent gender-based pay disparities and give every Coloradan a fair shot at economic security. The bill now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.
“This monumental day is long overdue. After working on equal pay legislation for years, I am so proud to see this bill pass the Senate and move closer to becoming law in Colorado,” said Senator Danielson. “Every day, I look at my daughter Isabelle and think about what her life will look like when she enters the workforce. Without action, the gender wage gap won’t close until she’s in her forties. This legislation will even the playing field and make sure Isabelle and all women across Colorado are paid the same as men for the same work.”
“Women are more likely to be paid less from the get-go, and you would be hard-pressed to find a woman in Colorado who hasn’t been affected by the wage gap,” said Senator Pettersen. “This bill is about creating economic fairness by changing the conversation and process to ensure we finally close the pay gap in Colorado. We know that the federal law is inadequate and we must act at the state level. I am proud to see the equal pay act pass the Senate.”
On average, white women in Colorado earn 86 cents for every dollar men make for doing the same job. For women of color, the disparities are even more pronounced. According to the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, Black and Latina women respectively earn 63.1 and 53.5 cents for every dollar men earn for the same job.
The Equal Pay for Equal Work Act would set proactive measures to reduce the gender pay gap by requiring companies to notify all qualified employees about job advancement opportunities, as well as the salary range. Employers would also be forbidden to ask for the previous salary history of a prospective employee. These provisions of the bill will give women leverage to advocate for themselves and ensure that they are not held back by previous wage discrimination.
The bill would also hold bad actors accountable, allowing anyone to take legal action if they believe their wage differential is based on sex. To be exempt, an employer would need to demonstrate a pay gap is based on seniority, merit, or a difference in quantity or quality of work.
For more information about the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, please visit: https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/sb19-085.