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NEW LAW: WASHINGTON EQUAL PAY AND OPPORTUNITIES ACT

If you have any questions or concerns related to these articles, please contact Tom Malone (tmalone@malonelegal.com)  or Meredith Davison (mdavison@malonelegal.com)  at Malone Law Group, PS, 206-527-0333.

By Tom Malone

A new Washington State law passed in April, 2019, is intended to address the gap in wages and advancement opportunities among workers in Washington, especially women.  The legislature’s intent is to update the existing Washington State equal pay act (not modified since 1943), to address income disparities, employer discrimination, retaliation practices, and to reflect the equal status of all workers in Washington State.  The new law (Substitute House Bill 1696) provides as follows

An employer may not:

  1. Seek the wage or salary history of an applicant for employment from the applicant or a current or former employer; or
  2. Require that an applicant’s prior wage or salary history meet certain criteria. 

    An employer may confirm an applicant’s wage or salary history:
  1. If the applicant has voluntarily disclosed the applicant’s wage or salary history; or
  2. After the employer has negotiated and made an offer of employment with compensation to the applicant.

In addition, a section in the new law (applying only to employers with fifteen or more employees), requires that upon request of an applicant, after an employer has offered the applicant a position, the employer must provide the minimum wage or salary for the position;

and upon request of an employee offered an internal transfer to a new position or promotion, the employer must provide the wage scale or salary range for the employee’s new position.  If no wage scale or salary range exists, the employer must provide the minimum wage or salary expectation set by the employer prior to posting the position.

Violations of this law may subject the employer to civil penalties and payment of wages and interest as provided in RCW 49.58.060.