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Alabama’s New Pay Equity Law Takes Effect September 1, 2019

Alabama became the 49th state to adopt equal pay legislation when Governor Kay Ivey signed the Clarke-Figures Equal Pay Act (CFEPA) on June 11, 2019. The CFEPA, effective September 1, 2019, prohibits an employer from paying an employee less than another employee of a different race or sex for equal work.

Alabama’s New Equal Pay Act Set To Soon Take Effect

The State of Alabama passed an Equal Pay Act in the 2019 legislative session that is set to take effect on September 1, 2019. Employers must begin their preparations to comply with the law now because there are new timekeeping and wage records that will be required of all employers in Alabama as a result.

Alabama Passes State Equal Pay Act

On June 11, 2019, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed into law the Clark-Figures Equal Pay Act (the “Alabama EPA”). The Alabama EPA provides that it shall be unlawful for an employer to “pay any of its employees at wage rates less than those paid to employees of another sex or race for equal work within the same establishment on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and performance under similar working conditions.” The Alabama EPA takes effect September 1, 2019. Previously, employers and employees in Alabama were subject to the federal Equal Pay Act (the “EPA”). Similar to the EPA, no discriminatory intent has to be proven under the Alabama EPA, and an employee can recover the wage differential plus interest. In contrast to the EPA, the Alabama EPA does not permit recovery of liquidated damages (double the amount of the wage differential) or attorneys’ fees. Also in contrast to the EPA, the Alabama EPA requires parity in wages based on race as well as sex. The Alabama EPA specifically permits wage differentials resulting from a merit system, a seniority system, or a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production. An employer also may raise a defense that the wage differential was based on a factor other than sex or race, although the final version of the Alabama EPA does not provide any examples of such factors.

Alabama Enacts Pay Equity Law

On June 10, 2019, Alabama enacted the state’s first wage equity law. The Clarke-Figures Equal Pay Act (CFEPA) mimics, in large portion, the federal Equal Pay Act (EPA), but includes race as a protected classification in addition to sex. The CFEPA also prohibits retaliation based on an applicants’ failure or refusal to provide their wage history and sets forth employer recordkeeping requirements. Employers of any size are subject to the act. There is no small employer exception. The CFEPA takes effect September 1, 2019.

Alabama Legislature Approves Equal Pay Law; Law Awaits Governor Signature

Yesterday, Alabama’s Governor, Kay Ivey, signed a new law that would prohibit employers from paying less for the same work on the basis of gender or race. After both the House and the Senate approved the bill, it was sent back with an executive amendment from Governor Ivey on May 30, 2019. Upon approval of that amendment by the Alabama House and Senate, the law just received the necessary executive signature for enactment. With the passage of this law, titled the Clarke-Figures Equal Pay Act, only Mississippi remains without any state equal pay legislation in place.

Alabama Governor Signs Pay Equity Legislation

On June 11, 2019, Governor Kay Ivey signed Alabama House Bill 225, making Alabama the 49th state to adopt equal pay legislation.

Will Alabama Governor Sign Pay Equity Legislation?

Federal law already prohibits employers from paying an employee less than employees of another sex for equal work, unless the employer bases the wage difference on statutorily defined factors. Alabama and Mississippi were the only two states without corresponding state-specific laws until Representative Adline Clarke, D-Mobile, introduced Alabama House Bill 225 on March 19, 2019. The Alabama Senate voted unanimously to approve the bill, with amendments, and the Alabama House of Representatives unanimously passed the Clarke-Figures Equal Pay Act on May 30, 2019.

Alabama Seeks to Tie Unemployment Benefits to State Unemployment Rate

On May 21, 2019, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed Act 2019-204. This legislation, introduced initially in the Alabama Senate, links an employee’s maximum weekly unemployment benefits and their duration to the state’s unemployment rate.

What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been: Is Medical Marijuana Coming to Alabama?

On March 20, 2019, House Bill 243 (HB243) was introduced in the Alabama House of Representatives. HB243, a bipartisan bill with extensive support from both the majority and minority leaders, would create the Compassion, Access, Research, and Expansion Act (CARE Act) to legalize medical marijuana in Alabama for individuals with certain medical conditions.

Eleventh Circuit to Undertake Full-Court Review of Challenge to Alabama Law Prohibiting Local Minimum Wage Laws

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to undertake a full-court review to decide the validity of a 2015 Alabama law prohibiting cities or other local municipalities from adopting their own laws concerning minimum wages, leave benefits, collective bargaining and other employment-related issues. The law was enacted in response to an ordinance passed by the Birmingham City Council to increase the minimum wage for all employees within the City’s boundaries, from the current federal minimum of $7.25 to $10.10. While local jurisdictions in a number of states have enacted their own minimum wage ordinances in recent years, Alabama is one of nearly twenty states that have passed laws prohibiting such ordinances.
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