Jun 22, 2021 - News

Colorado defends equal pay law as employers snub local workers

Illustration of the Colorado flag, with a no symbol instead of a c.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The advocates behind a law designed to address the gender wage gap are pushing back against companies who refuse to hire Colorado workers.

What they're saying: "I think the real story here is these companies — these bad actors — who are working so incredibly hard to underpay women," said state Sen. Jessie Danielson (D-Wheat Ridge), a sponsor of the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act.

Catch up quick: The 2019 law took effect Jan. 1 and requires employers with a presence in Colorado to include a pay range with job postings, including for remote workers.

  • Several dozen companies are refusing to comply, instead adding notices saying jobs are only open to candidates outside Colorado.

What's new: The Polis administration is defending the law, saying most employers — 99% of postings in a recent state review — are complying or fixing violations once noticed.

  • The state's labor department confirmed it is conducting an investigation into a complaint against an employer for excluding Colorado workers and hopes to issue a decision soon.

There may be some confusion about the rules, though, leading employers to overcompensate in their job postings. Officials emphasized that the rules don't apply to out-of-state companies that don't have workers in Colorado.

  • "It's puzzling for entirely out-of-state employers to limit their own talent pool by excluding Coloradans, just to avoid being covered by a law that already doesn't cover them," Scott Moss, the director of labor standards, told Axios via email.

Danielson cast shame on the employers who are refusing to comply, saying she's heard from job applicants who say they’re better able to advocate for themselves with more salary transparency.

  • Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, a Denver Democrat and assistant House majority leader, told the Colorado Sun that she wants to find a way to strengthen the enforcement.

The other side: Rep. Kevin Van Winkle (R-Highlands Ranch) responded saying that the law represents political "micromanaging" that hurts businesses and workers.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Denver.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Denver stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Denver.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more