Yesterday, the Colorado state Senate passed SB19-085, better known as the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, a major reform to workplace discrimination law. The bill is now on its way to Governor Polis, who is expected to sign it.
Guess what happened in the middle of the night: SB19-085 the EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK ACT WAS PASSED AGAIN 21-14 BY THE SENATE AND IS ON ITS WAY TO THE GOVERNOR!!! #equalpay #equalpayiscomingColorado Thank you @jessiedanielson @pettersen4co @repjanetbuckner @SerenaForCO! pic.twitter.com/1NMvUYURR9
— Colo Womens Bar Assn (@ColoWomensBar) April 30, 2019
The bill addresses a persistent wage gap in Colorado and changes how wage discrimination based on gender is prosecuted. Currently, these kinds of cases are enforced directly by the director of the state Department of Labor.
Under the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, wage discrimination based on gender can now be brought to court as a civil suit. This will give victims of wage discrimination an easier avenue to confronting employers and receiving their back wages.
In the bill, discrimination based on “sex” is emphasized. The language of discrimination by “sex” could have had the potential to leave room for discrimination against queer or trans employees.
However, in Section 4 of the bill, “sex” is given a very broad and inclusive definition as “an employer’s gender identity.” With this short definition, the bill brings queer and trans Coloradans under the umbrella of protections against wage discrimination.