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Alabama Adopts an Equal Pay Act

Alabama has approved an equal pay law that will go into effect September 1, 2019. The Clarke-Figures Equal Pay act provides protection to employees in two areas: pay and wage history.

The law prohibits discrimination in pay to employees due to sex or race if there is equal skill, effort, education, experience and responsibility and the performance is under similar working conditions. This protection has exceptions: seniority systems, merit systems, systems that measure by quantity or quality, differential-based on any other factors besides race or sex.

The second component addresses wage history disclosure. Employers shall not refuse to interview, hire, promote or employ an applicant that does not provide past or current salary information. Retaliation against an applicant based on refusal to supply wage history is prohibited.

The first section mirrors the federal Equal Pay Act of 1963 with some significant differences.  Unlike the federal law, the Alabama law specifically includes race as a protected class. Another difference is that statute of limitations under the Alabama law is two years, whereas the federal statute provides a three-year statute of limitations if the employer’s discrimination is willful. Additionally, only wages and interest are recoverable in Alabama whereas under the federal law, legal fees and other damages are recoverable. The second protection falls outside the federal law.

Equal pay continues to be a significant issue in today’s economy and this new law is another tool to protect employees.

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