Equal Pay Day at Colorado Senate


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April 2 is Equal Pay Day, and Coloradans seized on the opportunity to highlight a Senate bill scheduled for a vote. Members of the Colorado Women's Bar Association, the Women's Lobby of Colorado and 9to5 Colorado gathered on the steps of the state Capitol with signs demanding equal pay.

The Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, sponsored by Sens. Jessie Danielson, D-Wheat Ridge, and Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, would allow people to bring a civil case of wage discrimination based on sex in district court. Current law gives the sole authority to enforce wage discrimination to the Division of Labor Standards and Statistics director.

The bill would also prohibit employers from looking up a prospective employee's wage history, relying on prior wages to determine their wages at hiring, or retaliating against a job candidate for failing to disclose their wage history. Employers would be required to announce employment advancement opportunities companywide and to disclose the pay ranges for job openings.

The proposed legislation — likely to pass with the Democrats' trifecta of control — has met opposition from business groups, including the National Federation of Independent Business and Colorado Chamber of Commerce.

While a full vote on Senate Bill 85, the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, was postponed until April 3, the Senate passed a resolution reaffirming women's right to equal pay.

The resolution officially recognized April 2, 2019, as Equal Pay Day (the day that symbolizes how far women must work into the year to earn what men earned the previous year). The day was first originated by the National Committee on Pay Equity in 1996.

"We recognize that the problem of pay disparity impacts different communities across the state more significantly," the resolution notes. "Asian women's day of equal pay would be March 5; white women's day of equal pay would be April 19; black women's day of equal pay would be August 22; Indigenous women's day of equal pay would be September 23; and Latina women's day of equal pay would be November 20."

The resolution passed on a vote of 30-3, with Sens. Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins, John Cooke, R-Greeley, and Rob Woodward, R-Loveland, opposed. The House passed a similar resolution with unanimous support.

"Numbers can say whatever you want them to say," Marble argued on the Senate floor before the vote. "Not all white men make the same as every white man in a job. It’s diversified across the board."

Gov. Jared Polis chimed in later on Twitter:

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