Gender-based discrimination. The Washington Equal Pay and Opportunities Act (EPOA) prohibits all employers from pay discrimination based on gender when workers are similarly employed (WA Stat. Sec. 49.58.020). Employees are “similarly employed” if:
• They work for the same employer;
• Job performance requires similar skill, effort, and responsibility; and
• The jobs are performed under similar working conditions.
The EPOA covers all employers in the state.
Exception. The EPOA permits pay differences that are based in good faith on bona fide job-related factors that:
• Are consistent with business necessity;
• Are not based on or derived from a gender-based differential; and
• Account for the entire differential.
More than one factor may account for the differential.
Bona fide factors include, but are not limited to:
• Education, training, or experience;
• A seniority system;
• A merit system;
• A system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or
• A bona fide regional difference in compensation levels.
A pay differential based in good faith on a local government ordinance providing for a minimum wage different from state law does not constitute discrimination under the law.
An individual's previous wage or salary history is not a defense under the law.
Violations. A violation of the law occurs when:
• A discriminatory compensation decision or other practice is adopted;
• An individual becomes subject to a discriminatory compensation decision or practice; or
• An individual is affected by the application of a discriminatory compensation decision or practice—including each time wages, benefits, or other compensation is paid that resulted in whole or in part from the discriminatory decision ...