What’s important to know about Alabama’s new equal pay law

What’s important to know about Alabama’s new equal pay law
(Source: WAFF)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Alabama's new equal pay law goes into effect soon. It's geared at making salaries more fair in the workplace.

House Bill 225 enables anyone who has been fired, discriminated against, or retaliated against by their employer because of wage inequality to file a lawsuit against them.

Cindy Doty with PassionHR Consulting says the new equal pay law, essentially parallels existing federal law in terms of not being able to discriminate against someone based on their race or gender, protections that are in place under the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

What is changing is that you cannot discriminate against an applicant if they refuse to supply you with their salary history.

“Historically, minorities and women have had lower salaries and so raises, even though they may be fair, may not bring you to an equitable salary because you’re starting at a lower point,” Doty explained.

Ben Eubanks is principal analyst with Lighthouse Research and founder of upstartHR. He provided a practical perspective on how the new law affects all workers in Alabama.

“Employers, for a long time, have relied on the tactic of being able to ask about the previous salary someone had. They can’t do that anymore with the new law. They’re going to be forced to only consider a certain range of the position and if you’re asked about a previous salary, you don’t have to respond or answer about what you made at your last job. They can’t penalize you if you don’t want to answer that,” he said.

HR experts say the law encourages employers to find more equitable ways to determine salaries for their employees.

“I think a better thing is to consider what the job is worth and set your salary structure based upon the person’s experience and the job they’re going to be doing. That’s always been a good employment practice to begin with. There’s enough compensation information out there that individuals should be able to determine some sense of what their value is based on their education and experience,” Doty added.

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