Oregon has become the latest state in the US to legalise equal pay.
The Oregon Senate unanimously voted to pass an Equal Pay Act, aiming to address the pay gap between genders, races and religions.
The Bill extends the rights of existing laws, which only offered explicit protection for women. It expands to include race, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, disability, age and veteran status.
The Bill also bans employers from determining someone’s wage based on their previous pay history. Employer’s can only ask about someone’s pay history only after making a job offer that includes a wage amount.
Those employers who have violated any of the new rules, will owe employees unpaid wages.
Speaking on the Senate floor, Sen. Kathleen Taylor, D-Portland said, “It’s currently legal in Oregon and throughout the US to pay someone differently for the same work based on their gender, race, religion, etc.”
“However, our current legal system is not working, and we know far too many individuals are being paid less for doing the same work.”
Senator Tim Knopp, R-Bend, continued saying, “This bill is for our mothers, our wives, our daughters, our granddaughters, our aunts, our nieces and our friends.”
“I want to dedicate this bill to the next generation of women that will earn more for their entire working career because of our efforts here today.”
The ban on seeking salary history will become effect 91 days after the Legislature adjourns, while screening and compensation discrimination laws become effective on 1 January 2019.
The US gender pay gap currently stands at around 20 per cent, meaning men make on average $10,470 more a year than their female counterparts.
The pay gap is also much worse for minority women, with statistics showing that African American women make just 63 cents for every dollar that a man makes. Latina women make just 54 cents.