Regional News

Changes to state gender pay equality law took effect July 28, 2019

Aug 01, 2019

Changes to the Equal Pay and Opportunities Act (EPOA) make it unlawful for employers to request a job applicant’s wage or salary history, except under certain circumstances.

The Washington State Legislature updated the state’s pay equity law in 2018 with passage of the Equal Pay and Opportunities Act, which prohibits gender pay discrimination and promotes fairness among workers by addressing business practices that contribute to gender pay gaps. During the 2019 legislative session, the legislature amended this law to include new protections for applicants applying for jobs and add additional rights for employees.

Those changes took effect July 28.

Under the revised law, current employees who are offered an internal transfer, a new position or a promotion must now be shown the new job's wage scale or salary range if they request it.

If no wage scale or salary range exists, the employer must show the employee "the minimum wage or salary expectation" that was set before the job was posted or a transfer or promotion was offered.

Employers must also show job applicants the minimum wage or salary of the position they are applying for if they request it after being offered the position.

The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) recommends Washington employers review job application forms and other hiring documentation to remove any requests for or references to job applicants’ salary history.

The ban on requesting salary history applies to all Washington employers, regardless of size. The requirement to disclose salary information to certain applicants and employees applies only to Washington employers with 15 or more employees.

Washington is the third West Coast state to pass legislation prohibiting pay history inquiries, joining California and Oregon.

"Washington is consistently ranked a top state to work and to do business," Governor Jay Inslee said. "Our commitment to ensuring prosperity is shared by everyone is key to that success. Yet, for too long, wage disparities have continued between individuals doing equal work. The protections established in this law are the next step toward finally leveling the playing field."

Rights for both current employees and job applicants

L&I is tasked with enforcing the law and can accept complaints from employees and job applicants.

"A gender pay gap is simply unacceptable; people should expect equal pay for equal work," said L&I Director Joel Sacks. "Employees and job applicants will now have access to more information about how much jobs pay, and greater protections to make sure they're being paid fairly."

To file a complaint, or for more information, go to For additional information, contact L&I’s Employment Standards Program at 1-866-219-7321.


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