Montana Equal Pay/Comparable Worth: What you need to know

The Montana Equal Pay Law prohibits discrimination in wages or compensation based on sex for equivalent service or for the same amount or class of work in the same place of employment (MT Code Sec. 39-3-104). The Law applies to all employers in the state, both public and private. A violation of the Law is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $25 to $500.
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The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 amended the federal fair employment laws (e.g., Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,Age Discrimination in Employment Act) so that each paycheck affected by an employer's prior discriminatory practice or decision constitutes an unlawful discriminatory act that triggers a new deadline for filing a pay discrimination claim. The employee alleging discrimination must be able to show that the paycheck or other compensation was affected by a past discriminatory act.
Comparable worth is a legal theory that holds that if two jobs are not similar in duties or conditions, but are nonetheless of equal value to the employer, they should be compensated equally. Montana has endorsed the theory of comparable worth in its statute addressing the classification and compensation of public employees, which specifically states that Montana is working toward a goal of equal pay for all jobs of comparable worth to the state (MT Code Sec. 2-18-208 et seq.). The statute provides that the state will reach a standard of equal pay for comparable worth by eliminating the use of any job classification factors that contain inherent sex-based biases and by comparing factors used for determining job worth across occupational groups whenever such groups are dominated by one gender.
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