Public Policy

The Oregon Equal Pay Act

We are very proud of the role Oregon’s AAUW members played in getting The Oregon Equal Pay Act passed. 

The Act which was passed last spring (2017) is a ground-breaking law for the State of Oregon and received heavy bipartisan support.

 Much of this Act hinged on the wage transparency act passed in 2016 with the support and involvement of AAUW Oregon.

 Everyone, male and female, in Oregon should understand how this Act impacts them.  Below is a brief description of your rights under this new law.

 You have a right as an employee in Oregon to equal pay.  Your employer can’t:

  • Pay you less because of your gender, race, color, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, age, disability or veteran status. This includes fringe benefits;
  • Pay your coworker more for the same job unless the entire pay gap is based on one or more of these conditions: seniority, merit, quantity of production, education, training, experience, workplace location and travel;
  • Ask a potential new hire how much he or she is currently paid or has been paid in the past. It is only when an employer makes a job offer that includes a payment amount that the employer can ask for wage history; and
  • Cut your pay to follow this law or retaliate against you for asking for equal pay.

Even if you have agreed to be paid less than a coworker doing the same job, your employer could still owe you unpaid wages.

If your employer violates these rules, you are owed back pay and attorney’s fees.  You may also have the right to money for pain and suffering, punitive damages and a jury trial.

What can you do if your employer violates the rules?  You can file a complaint with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries or sue your employer in court.

However, employers are given time to put these rules into action, so a legal claim for back pay and other damages cannot be filed until 2019.  If your claim is based on your employer’s using your prior earnings history, you must wait until 2024 to file a claim in court.   You may be able to file a claim with the Bureau of Labor and Industries before these time periods, but the amount you may recover could be less.

If your employer has conducted a study of its equal pay practices in the three years before you file a claim, you may only have the right to back pay and attorney’s fees.


How to Contact your Senators & Representatives

Rep. Cheri Helt
900 Court Street NE  #H-387
Salem, OR  97301
Rep. Jack Zika
900 Court Street NE  #H-387
Salem, OR  97301


Sen. Tim Knopp
900 Court Street NE  #S-309
Salem, OR  97301

Representative Cliff Bentz (2nd District)
1239 Longworth House Office Bldg
Washington, D.C.  20515-3702


Senator Ron Wyden
230 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C.  20510-3703

Senator Jeff Merkley
B40B Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C.  20510