The New Rules of Equal Pay: It’s Not Just Gender Any More

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This activity has been APPROVED for SHRM Re-Certification Credits.

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Jodi Slavik Vigilant

The chant, “Equal Pay for Equal Work!” was ringing outside the White House as John F. Kennedy signed the federal Equal Pay Act of 1963.  Making it illegal to pay men and women different wages for the same jobs, the Equal Pay Act was followed a year later by the more broadly protective Civil Rights Act.  Together, these laws require equal opportunity and reward without regard to gender.  Unfortunately, laws alone cannot change decades of intentional and unintentional practices that create pay disparity, and state legislatures are responding with laws designed to put all workers—not just men and women—on equal footing.

The challenge for employers is that states aren’t just trying to respond—they are trying to break the mold.  For example, Oregon has created a pay equity requirement for 10 protected classes that is nearly impossible to meet, let alone accurately analyze, without a fixed pay scale.  With the prospect of countless lawsuits when the law goes into effect in 2019, Oregon employers and their attorneys are trying to figure out how to defend wages that vary widely and lack documentation.

This one-hour session is a high-level review of relevant pay equity laws, including the federal Equal Pay Act and groundbreaking recent revisions to California and Oregon state laws.  Washington’s recently passed Equal Pay and Opportunity Act will also be discussed as Washington attempts to keep pace with its West Coast neighbors.  After setting the legal background, the session will turn its attention to common pitfalls and best practices to avoid pay equity lawsuits, as well as ideas on how to identify pay vulnerabilities that may be lurking in the corners of your business structure.

Learning Objectives:

After reviewing federal and relevant state laws on pay equity, as well as anticipated Washington pay equity amendments, participants will be able to:

  • Understand the history and relevant requirements of the federal Equal Pay Act;
  • Understand recent changes in California and Oregon that will affect multi-state operations, as well as legislation signed by Washington’s Governor that modifies the Washington Equal Pay Act and creates new liabilities;
  • Identify areas of vulnerability in your existing pay structure, including a review of protected categories, job titles, and wage documentation;
  • Follow a checklist of best practices to proactively discover and avoid common pay equity issues; and
  • Accurately articulate your pay structure to create a more defensible position to a pay equity claim.


Jodi Slavik proudly provides counsel to Washington State businesses on employment issues, including training of HR professionals, managers, supervisors, and employees on a range of liability and leadership issues.  As Vigilant’s Strategic Services Director, Jodi is also responsible for stability and growth of major accounts in Washington and Idaho, as well as ensuring unparalleled service for Vigilant member companies.  Before joining Vigilant in 2011, Jodi served 15 years as an in-house trade association counsel, including roles as general counsel, environmental lobbyist, and class instructor.  It is in the classroom that Jodi is at her best—distilling and conveying complex, controversial information in an immediately useful, entertaining way.