(April 23) – The House Finance Committee approved two bills today to help close the wage gap in Colorado. Currently, the gender wage gap is projected to not close until 2057 in Colorado and 2059 nationally.

“Women are the sole breadwinners in seventy-five percent of hardworking families in Colorado,” Rep. Buckner said. “We are fighting for women and men of color to be treated with the dignity, fairness and respect they deserve. The wage gap in our state is discrimination.” 

Colorado women are paid 86 cents for every dollar paid to men for doing the same job and African-American women earn 63 cents for every dollar paid to men for doing the same job. 

HB18-1378, the Equal Pay For Equal Work Act, sponsored by Rep. Jessie Danielson, D-Wheat Ridge, and Rep. Janet Buckner, D-Aurora, passed on a vote of 7-6 and now goes to the Appropriations Committee.

“Hardworking Colorado families deserve a fair shot at economic security,” Rep. Danielson D-Wheat Ridge, said. “We have an obligation to pass common-sense measures to close the wage gap. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it will grow Colorado’s economy by billions and help families save for the future. If we do nothing, the wage gap between men and women won’t close for forty years.”

HB18-1377, sponsored by Reps. James Coleman and Brittany Pettersen will tackle a major problem for people in Colorado, preventing ongoing pay inequality following an individual throughout her or his career.

“When women and people of color – who are often underpaid – are constantly anchored to their previous salary history it creates a lifetime of inequity.  Our legislation will help families across our state by ensuring Coloradans are paid based on their qualifications,” said Rep. Pettersen, D-Lakewood.

Currently, employers can question job applicants about salary history. A candidate’s compensation based on their salary history can perpetuate existing wage inequalities that are the result of gender and racial biases.

“While Colorado is a leading state with our growing economy, wage inequality is also growing. We cannot allow the wage gap to perpetuate,” said Rep. Coleman, D-Denver.
   
Existing law already prohibits employers from asking certain questions of job applicants, such as marital status, religion or medical history, that are not relevant and open the door to discriminatory hiring. Salary information is one more such question. Nothing in this bill prevents a worker from voluntarily offering her prior salary if the prior salary could benefit the worker in salary negotiations.

HB18-1377 passed on a vote of 7-5 and now goes to the House floor.

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