The state joins many others that are creating laws to help eliminate wage gaps based on gender, race and other protected factors.
About The Bill
Representative Adline Clarke sponsored Alabama House Bill 225 (HB225). She was inspired to do this after reading a book titled “Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond.”
The bill prohibits employers from “paying any of its employees at wage rates less than those paid to employees of another sex or race for substantially similar work when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility, as specified.”
Governor Kay Ivey signed HB225 on June 11, 2019. It goes into effect August 1, 2019. Read the bill.
Employers have the right to offer varying wages for similar work if they can demonstrate the difference is based on any of these factors:
• A seniority system.
• A valid merit system.
• A system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production.
• A bona fide factor other than sex or race, such as education, training or experience.
These exceptions will not be applicable if an employee can demonstrate that an alternative business practice exists which would serve the same purpose without producing the wage differential.
HB225 requires Alabama employers to:
• Pay comparable rates for comparable work.
• Maintain records that include wages, job classifications and other terms of employment for at least three years.
• Refrain from terminating or otherwise retaliating against an employee who files charges on the employer based on alleged wage discrimination.
• Allow employees to discuss their compensation with co-workers and encourage others to exercise their rights under HB225.
If an employer violates any of the laws established by HB225, the person who was discriminated against may file a civil action. This could include asking the employer for “reinstatement and reimbursement for lost wages and work benefits caused by the acts of the employer, including interest thereon, as well as appropriate equitable relief.”
Any employer that is found guilty of a violation is liable to the employee in the amount of the “wages, and interest thereon, of which the employee is deprived by reason of the violation, and an additional equal amount as liquidated damages.”
Takeaway For Employers
Anti-wage discrimination bills are becoming increasingly common in the United States. Employers in Alabama should be aware of HB225 and prepared for compliance before it goes into effect. Every employer should be aware that even if a similar bill does not currently exist where they operate, one could be introduced soon.
Best practice is to not ask applicants about their salary history and to pay comparable wages for comparable work (unless a valid exemption exists, such as the ones listed above).
When you’re ready to run background checks on applicants, volunteers, employees or contractors, please contact us. Our team is highly experienced at building compliant background screening packages for every industry. We are available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.