Beginning on Jan 1, 2021, Colorado workers can sue their employers for pay discrimination and recover liquidated damages and back pay. The new Equal Pay for Equal Work Act will expand employee rights under Colorado’s wage and hour laws.

There will be greater oversight over the calculation of wages under the new law. Certain factors will have to legally justify pay differences. These are seniority, merit, production rate or quality, geography, education, training and travel.

These will have to be applied consistently, fairly and in a formal manner. Market factors are no longer a valid reason.

Starting next year, employers must also post all promotion opportunities internally. These should contain the wage rate for the position. Employers will have to keep job descriptions for all new and existing positions.

Before the law takes effect, employers need to correct past wage discrimination, review their pay practices and assure that workers are compared to one another to assure that their work is equal.

To accomplish this, businesses should conduct a comprehensive pay audit to identify and fix pay disparities. If employers made a sincere attempt to correct pay differences and performed this audit within the last two years, their actions may be evidence of their good faith and protect the business from charges of noncompliance.

Also, employers should review and update all their job descriptions before the law takes effect. Duties and requirements for jobs contained in these descriptions will play an important part in a legal proceeding on whether there is equal pay for work.

An attorney can help gather evidence, file a complaint with the department of labor or file a private legal action. They can help assure that your right to your legally entitled wages are protected.