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September 2022: Alabama Workforce and Wage Gap Task Force Takes Aim at State’s Pay Disparities

30 Aug

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Update Applicable to:
All employers in the state of Alabama

What happened?
On April 13, 2022, Representative Adline Clarke (D-Mobile), a co-sponsor of the Clarke-Figures Equal Pay Act (CFEPA), introduced House Joint Resolution 115 as Act No. 2022-359, establishing the Alabama Workforce and Wage Gap Task Force.

What are the details?
Alabama became the forty-ninth state to adopt equal pay legislation on June 11, 2019, with the enactment of the CFEPA. The CFEPA, effective September 1, 2019, substantially tracks existing federal laws like the Equal Pay Act (EPA) of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibiting employers from paying an employee a lower wage rate than an employee of a different race or sex for equal work in the same establishment, where job performance requires “equal skill, effort, education, experience, and responsibility” and occurs “under similar working conditions.”

The enactment of the CFEPA raised a question: Would Alabama state court employment claims increase? As predicted by one of our trusted sources, Ogletree Deakins, most attorneys would not want to test an uncharted statute with an existing federal path for pay discrimination claims. only a handful of complaints have been filed since the CFEPA’s enactment, and they are still pending.

Given the dearth of CFEPA claims and evidence of continued race and gender-based pay disparities in Alabama, The task force will “identify evidence-based policies to assist lawmakers in implementing laws to close the wage gap” in Alabama by investigating the root causes of pay disparities.

The resolution requires the task force to “report any findings or recommendations to the Legislature” and to dissolve no later than December 31, 2022. It is unclear what the group will recommend, but Governor Kay Ivey reportedly appointed Melanie Bridgeforth, chief executive officer of the Women’s Foundation of Alabama, as the group’s chair. The foundation recently released a report titled “Clearing the Path: Galvanizing the Economic Impact of Women,” which advocates strengthening equal pay protections, enacting additional pay protections, and increasing the minimum wage. The report also encourages employers to strengthen paid family and sick leave policies and implement recruitment strategies to attract diverse talent.

The Alabama Workforce and Wage Gap Task Force’s recommendations will not have the force and effect of law.

For more information, please see the links below:

Clarke-Figures Equal Pay Act

Act No. 2022-359

Ogletree Deakins Article

Article

What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the links above and consider evaluating pay practices for equity purposes, including conducting proactive, privileged, and voluntary analyses of pay structures as a first step toward limiting legal risk.

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This communication is intended solely for the purpose of conveying information. The present post might incorporate hyperlinks directing readers to websites managed by third-party entities. The inclusion of any links within this communication is meant to serve as points of reference and could encompass opinion articles from various law firms, articles from HR associations, official websites, news releases, and documents of government agencies, and other relevant third-party sources. Vensure has no authority over these external websites and bears no responsibility for their content. Furthermore, Vensure does not endorse the materials present on these websites. The contents of this communication should not be interpreted as legal advice or as a legal standpoint concerning specific facts or scenarios. Nor should it be deemed an exhaustive compilation of facts potentially pertinent to federal, state, or local laws. It is strongly advised that employers solicit legal guidance from an employment attorney when undertaking actions in response to any legal updates provided. This is due to the possibility of future alterations occurring in federal, state, and local laws, regulations, as well as the directives and guidelines issued by governing agencies. These changes may transpire at any given time, potentially rendering certain portions of the content within this update void or inaccurate.

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