Eliminating the wage disparity for women and minorities remains an issue on both the state and national level. Nationally, studies have shown that women earn roughly 74%of men’s earnings, minority men earn roughly 65% of white men and minority women tend to have an even greater income disparity.
Oregon’s existing equal pay law, found in state wage and hour law (ORS652.220), prohibits wage discrimination based on gender, however does not prohibit wage discrimination against other protected classes (race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, and age).
While wage discrimination based on any protected class is prohibited under Oregon civil rights law (ORS Chapter 659A), it is not currently also a wage and hour law violation, like wage discrimination based on sex.
LC 745 amends the existing pay equity statute in wage and hour law to also prohibit wage discrimination based on any of the protected classes found in ORS 659A.030 (race, color, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, and age). Passage of this legislative concept would make all forms of wage discrimination both a wage and hour violation in ORS chapter 652 and a civil rights violation under ORS Chapter 659A. This change in state law would equalize protections against pay disparity among women and other protected classes.
Impact on Communities of Color, Immigrants and Refugees:
- A report by the Oregon Employment Department found that in 2007, white women in Oregon were earning an average income of $34,152 for full time, year-round work compared to $32,739 for Asian women and $20,333 for Hispanic and Latina women. The overall median wage for full-time, year-round female workers was $32,538.
- Wage disparity affects not only current earnings, but also the worker’s retirement through lower social security benefits and pensions, limits educational opportunities and increases the number of women and minorities living in poverty.
- Addresses differentials in wages and hours due to institutional barriers to promotion and scale