Proposals In Salem Aim To Close Wage Gap Between Men And Women

Feb 7, 2017

Oregon lawmakers are considering proposals aimed at making sure women are paid the same rate as men for similar work. Two measures were introduced this week.

It's already against Oregon law for employers to pay men and women differently when they're performing comparable work. But supporters of so-called "pay equity" legislation say the wage gap rears its head in more subtle ways.

For instance, Democratic Sen. Michael Dembrow said employers often require applicants to submit a salary history before giving them a job offer.

"It really discriminates against women who have taken time off from work to deal with their families, etcetera,” Dembrow said.

Dembrow's bill would ban that. It would also give people more time to sue if an employee finds out they're getting paid less than a colleague with similar seniority and responsibilities.

Dembrow's bill and a similar measure in the House were both introduced this week. All of the co-sponsors are Democrats. Spokesmen for House and Senate Republicans both said members of their caucus were reviewing the legislation.

Several studies, including ones by the Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries, and the Oregon Center for Public Policy, estimate that on average, Oregon women earn about 80 percent on average of men doing similar work.