United States: Colorado's Equal Pay For Equal Work Act: What Employers Need To Know Before 2021

On Wednesday, May 23, 2019, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed into law Senate Bill 19‑085 (also known as the Colorado Equal Pay for Equal Work Act), which imposes new, stringent obligations on Colorado employers as to hiring practices, promotion procedures, and record-keeping requirements. Importantly, this new law becomes effective on January 1, 2021.

The Act defines "employer" broadly to cover certain public entities and "every other person employing a person in the state." The Act further identifies several prohibited practices and outlines multiple new obligations for employers.

I. Prohibitions Under the Colorado Equal Pay for Equal Work Act

First, the Act prohibits employers from discriminating between employees on the basis of sex or on the basis of sex in combination with another protected status. In the Act, "sex" means an employee's gender identity. No employer may pay an employee of one sex a wage rate less than the wage rate of an employee of a different sex for substantially similar work, regardless of a difference in job titles, though several exceptions are allowed. Wage-rate differentials may exist based on:

  1. a seniority system;
  2. a merit system;
  3. a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production;
  4. the geographic location where the work is performed;
  5. education, training, or experience to the extent that they are reasonably related to the work in question; or
  6. regular travel that is a necessary condition of work performed.

Importantly, an employee's previous wage rate history cannot be used to justify a disparity in current wage rates.

Second, the Act prohibits employers from:

  1. asking prospective employees their wage rate histories or relying on their wage rates to determine compensation;
  2. discriminating or retaliating against any prospective employee for not disclosing his or her wage rate history;
  3. discharging, or discriminating or retaliating against, any employee for invoking the Act on behalf of anyone or assisting in the Act's enforcement;
  4. issuing any adverse employment action against an employee or another person for asking about, discussing, or comparing his or her wage rate;
  5. prohibiting an employee from disclosing his or her wage rate; or
  6. requiring an employee to waive his or her rights under the Act to disclose wage rate information.

II. New Procedures for Resolving Claims

The Act establishes three avenues by which employees may pursue claims against employers for violations of the Act:

  1. avail oneself of any mediation process established and administered by the Director of the Division of Labor Standards and Statistics;
  2. file a charge with the Colorado Civil Rights Division; or
  3. commence a civil action by filing a claim in a Colorado district court.

Note that an employee is not required to exhaust the first two administrative remedies and may instead proceed immediately to a civil action. However, an employee choosing to initiate a civil action must do so within two years from when the violation occurs.

III. Employer Liability: Remedies and Damages

A successful claimant may recover back pay for the entire duration of the violation up to three years. An employer found to have violated the Act is liable for economic damages in an amount equal to the difference between what the employee was paid and what the employee should have been paid but for any wage discrimination.

An employer is further liable for additional "liquidated damages" (meant to compensate an employee for the delay in receiving amounts due as a result of a violation) equaling the economic damages, unless the employer can establish that the violation was in "good faith."

Moreover, an employer found to have violated the Act is liable for various legal and equitable relief, including employment, reinstatement, promotion, pay increase, payment of lost wage rates, liquidated damages, and the employee's or prospective employee's reasonable litigation costs and attorneys' fees.

IV. New Transparency Requirements

The Act also imposes transparency obligations related to hiring, promoting, and record keeping. When hiring, employers now must disclose in each job posting both the hourly or salary compensation, or the range of compensation, and a general description of all the benefits and other compensation available to the prospective employee.

Employers must also now alert all current employees (on the same calendar day and prior to making a promotion decision) to all opportunities for promotion. Employers must also make and retain records for each employee's wage rate history and job descriptions for the entire duration of the employment, plus two years after the end of employment.

Should there be a finding that an employer did indeed violate the Act, an employer can receive a fine between $500 and $10,000 per violation.

VI. What this Means to Employers Moving Forward

This Act contains new and important compliance obligations for employers, especially with regards to hiring practices, promotion procedures, and record-keeping requirements. Performing a thorough and comprehensive pay audit of your workforce with the specific goal of identifying and remedying unlawful pay disparities before the Act goes into effect may help to avoid allegations and damage awards against your business. Additionally, employers should establish records of each employee's job description and wage rate to assist in both avoiding fines and demonstrating it has acted in "good faith."

For a more detailed explanation of this new law, read our legal alert from June 17.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions