Charlotte Sweeney collaborated in authoring a recent article for The Colorado Lawyer that provides an overview of Colorado Equal Pay for Work Act (CEPEWA) and details tips for both practitioners representing employees and those representing employers. CEPEWA goes into effect on January 1, 2021.
CEPEWA is Colorado’s response to the persistent wage gap between men and women. CEPEWA does not permit employers to justify a sex-based pay disparity by pointing to “any factor other than sex,” and instead requires employers to justify pay disparities using one of six specific factors. CEPEWA also bans the use of pay history to justify a pay disparity and imposes new recordkeeping requirements on employers.
The Act amends and effectively replaces Colorado’s equal pay statute (the Wage Equality Regardless of Sex Act) which prohibited an employer from discriminating “in the amount or rate of wages or salary paid or to be paid his employees in any employment in this state solely on account of the sex thereof,” and gave the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment permissive enforcement authority.
CEPEWA greatly expands the definition of wage discrimination and changes the process for handling wage discrimination claims. The new Act has two parts. The first creates a private cause of action similar to, but broader than, the federal Equal Pay Act (EPA); the second creates transparency measures, enforceable by CDLE, to provide employees more information about promotional opportunities, pay ranges, and the historical pay practices at a given place of employment.