Final Rules Issued for Oregon Equal Pay Law Effective January 1, 2019

The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) recently issued final rules implementing the Oregon Equal Pay Law, most provisions of which take effect on January 1, 2019. The full text is available on the BOLI web site here.

The final rules contain only minor changes from the proposed rules (see our previous blog post for a detailed discussion). The rules continue to define “work of comparable character” as work that includes substantially similar knowledge, skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions, with no single factor being determinative.” Key to this definition is the emphasis that “no single factor” will be determinative – in other words, employers should point to multiple factors to justify differences in pay among groups of employees.

The proposed rules contained the caveat that “minor differences” in these factors would not prevent jobs from being comparable. This was deleted from the final rules, a positive omission for employers, because the rules did not provide any objective guidance as to what would be considered a “minor” difference. For example, is an additional certification held by one employee who otherwise has the same degrees and education as another employee a “minor” difference or a significant one?

Unfortunately, the final rules still do not shed any light into what steps employers should take to conduct an equal pay analysis to avail themselves of the law’s safe harbor provisions. The rules define equal pay analysis as “an evaluation process to assess and correct wage disparities among employees who perform work of comparable character.” However, there is no rule to clarify any specific requirements for the process itself. A proposed rule requiring certain disclosures to employees was deleted from the final rules.

Starting January 1, 2019, employers are required to post notice of the Oregon Equal Pay Law in an area easily seen by all employees. The Oregon Equal Pay Law Poster is available free for download from BOLI here.

If you have any questions about what steps your organization should take to comply with the new Oregon Equal Pay Law, please contact the attorneys of Sather Byerly & Holloway.