NEW Oregon Equal Pay Act

What Every Oregon Employer Needs to Know

Governor Kate Brown signed Oregon House Bill 2005 on June 1, 2017. Most of the provisions of the new Oregon Equal Pay Act of 2017 (EPA) go into effect on January 1, 2019. Oregon’s EPA establishes significant penalties for pay discrepancies between those in protected classes and those who are not. Oregon’s EPA makes it an unlawful employment practice for employers to:

  • Screen job seekers based on current or past compensation.
  • Ask for the pay history of a job seeker or employee from a current or former employer of the job seeker.
  • Determine compensation (including fringe benefits like vacation) for an employee based on current or previous pay history.
  • Discriminate in any manner between employees on the basis of a protected class in regards to compensation for work of “comparable character”.


What is “comparable character” Two jobs of “comparable character” may not necessarily have the same job title, same duties, or be in the same department. According to Oregon’s EPA, work of “comparable character” means work that requires similar responsibility, working conditions, skill, knowledge, and responsibility.


Pay Differences clarified: Oregon’s EPA stipulates that pay discrepancies may only be based on bonafide reasons such as:

  • Tenure or seniority
  • Merit system
  • Education
  • Training
  • Location or travel requirements
  • Quality or quantity of work performed
  • Experience
  • Any combination of the above

Pay discrepancies example: For instance, paying an employee who has an Associate’s degree 5{0c2d428c3cefef4a77c472786cabf3d957ca1c1fde265c02f19cd1ec2d7db907} more than his female colleague with a GED may be considered reasonable. Paying him 50{0c2d428c3cefef4a77c472786cabf3d957ca1c1fde265c02f19cd1ec2d7db907} more based on the higher level of education is less likely to hold up in court.

Penalties for violations of Oregon’s EPA are significant. Employees may file a claim with BOLI, or a lawsuit. Class action claims are also allowable under this Act. Penalties could include up to two years of back pay, attorney fees, and punitive or compensatory damages.

What should Employers do to prepare for compliance with Oregon’s EPA?

  • Remove any salary or wage questions from your employment applications prior to September 9, 2017.
  • Train supervisors and anyone involved in the hiring and interviewing process that such questions are no longer allowed.
    • Questions regarding and applicant’s desired salary range are still allowed.
  • Review and update job descriptions, tenure, merit and seniority systems policies and republish in an updated company handbook.
  • Re-evaluate total compensation practices for all employees including vacation, bonuses etc.

Cardinal can help: Cardinal is taking necessary steps to ensure our hiring process is compliant with Oregon’s EPA. We will continue to keep you updated on any significant change. If you would like additional information about Oregon’s EPA or would like assistance preparing for compliance, please contact us at 1.800.342.4742 ~