from Colorado Equal Pay for Equal Work Act does not create any new legal protection for women in the labor market. Nonetheless, it has proven to be extremely effective in ensuring equal pay, regardless of gender, of $ 0.00 an hour for job seekers in Colorado.
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Advocates tout the law, SB 19-085, as protection against gender pay discrimination, but existing federal and state laws already prohibited discriminatory hiring and pay based on gender.
Federal Equal Pay Act 1963 “to prohibit[s] discrimination based on sex in the payment of wages by employers. Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act “Also makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sex in pay and benefits,” according to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Prior to SB 19-085, Title 8 of the Revised Colorado Statutes stated: “No employer shall discriminate in the amount or rate of wages or salaries paid or payable to its employees in employment in this state solely by because of the sex of it. The new law struck and replaced this language.
With existing legal protections stretching back nearly six decades, why did the Colorado General Assembly pass such a law?
The bill explains: “Despite policies prohibiting wage discrimination and creating opportunities for women to bring civil action for lost wages, women still earn much less than their male counterparts for the same job.”
The bill then cites fully debunked evidence of a persistent gender wage gap and concludes that the general assembly must “pass legislation that helps close the wage gap in Colorado.” In other words, it is not enough to prohibit discrimination; the government must proactively intervene to ensure that men and women receive the same pay.
In their attempt to solve a phantom problem, however, lawmakers have done nothing to improve the lives of women. They only created new problems for both workers and businesses.
Karlyn Borysenko said it best in a column for Forbes last year: “The gender pay gap does not exist.
But rather than review the mountain of evidence – including an Obama-era US Department of Labor study, which concludes that the wage gap “may be almost entirely the result of individual choices made by male workers and female “- proving SB 19-085 tries to remedy a non-existent injustice, let’s look at what the bill actually does.
The law creates new regulations that businesses must comply with if they employ a single Colorado resident or advertise jobs to Coloradans. These include mandates for employers “to disclose in each posting for each opening position hourly or wage compensation” and to keep records of historical wage rates for all employees “to determine if there are any. a model of the pay gap ”.
The bill also imposes subjective compliance burdens on employers and requires them to prove their innocence of discrimination charges.
If companies don’t comply, the law subjects them to endless litigation and fines ranging from $ 500 to $ 10,000 per violation.
In response, many employers avoid hiring Coloradans altogether.
As companies offer more remote employment opportunities in the post-pandemic economy, many job postings now include caveats such as that from Johnson & Johnson: “The workplace is flexible s ‘it is company-approved, except the post cannot be performed remotely from Colorado. “
In an editorial published in 2019 before the bill was passed, Joni Inman, executive director of the Colorado Women’s Alliance, prophetically said, “This bill hurts women. This eliminates opportunities rather than promoting them.
Rather than helping women in the workforce, the law completely disqualifies them from certain jobs and creates a new equal pay of $ 0.00 per hour for Colorado workers – men and women – who lack good jobs.
Ben Murrey is director of the Fiscal Policy Center at the Independence Institute and spent seven years as an assistant to the United States Senate.