Washington State Equal Pay Opportunity Act goes into Effect

Washington state’s Equal Pay Opportunity Act requires employers to provide equal pay and career advancement opportunities to their employees, regardless of gender.

6/19/18

The act promotes fairness among workers through:

  • Equal Pay GraphicEqual pay. Employers must provide equal compensation to “similarly employed” workers, except for some specific reasons unrelated to gender. “Similarly employed” means the same employer and similar working conditions, skills, effort, and responsibility.
  • Equal career advancement opportunities. Employers must not limit or provide career advancement opportunities based on gender.
  • Open wage discussions. Employers cannot stop employees from disclosing their wages to other workers or require agreements with employees that stop them from disclosing their wages.
  • Protection from discrimination, retaliation and firing. Employers cannot take any negative action against an employee for:
    • Asking or talking about wages with other workers
    • Asking the employer to provide a reason for the employee’s wages or lack of opportunity for career advancement
    • Helping or encouraging a fellow worker to take an action protected by the Equal Pay Opportunity Act
    • Filing a complaint
    • Taking any action protected by the Equal Pay Opportunity Act
  • Enforcement. Employees may submit complaints to the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I). L&I will investigate complaints, and can charge employers fines, damages, and interest for violations. Employees also have the right to take legal action against an employer. Once a civil complaint is filed in court, L&I cannot investigate the complaint.

The act went into effect June 7.

Acceptable reasons for a difference in pay:

  • Education, training, or experience
  • Seniority
  • Merit
  • Measuring earnings by production quantity or quality
  • Regional difference in compensation levels

Other reasons for a difference in pay that may be acceptable:

  • Job related factors consistent with business need
  • Reasons not based on gender
  • Local minimum wage laws

A difference in pay cannot be based on an employee’s wage or salary history.

Question of the Week

Are social security funds subject to garnishment?

Social Security income is not subject to garnishment. Generally, the federal Social Security Act makes Social Security benefits exempt from execution, levy, attachment, garnishment, or other legal process, or from the operation of any bankruptcy or insolvency law. Notable exceptions to this general rule include: (1) the IRS’ ability to issue tax levies, and (2) garnishments and/or legal processes brought by an individual to enforce a child support or alimony obligation.

Retirement income other than Social Security income can be subject to garnishment as long as it represents a matured debt (state law provides special procedures if an indebtedness is not matured and not due and payable), because state law makes all earnings subject to garnishment in some cases. Credit unions will want to look at the state law that applies to the garnishment scenario to determine which funds might be exempt at the state level.

The US Treasury rules regarding the garnishment of funds from an account that is receiving Federal Benefit payments protects these funds. Credit unions must perform a 60-day look-back and make available to the member, the lessor of the amount of electronic Social Security deposits of the balance of the account.

Related Links:

Legal Briefs

National Credit Union Administration (NCUA)

The NCUA released its state credit union data for the first quarter of 2018. The report indicates that Oregon and Washington had the highest median loan growth rates while Idaho had the second highest fastest median asset growth and median loans-to-shares ratio.

Federal Reserve Board (FRB)

The FRB announced that it has increase the discount rate from 2 ¼ percent to 2 ½ percent, effective immediately.

The FRB released its FOMC statement, which indicates that the labor market, economy, job market, and business fixed investments have all had positive trends in recent months.

The Payment Cards Center, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia released a discussion paper entitled “Combining Forces to Combat Elder Financial Victimization.” The paper is aimed at helping consumers know what steps they can take to protect themselves from financial exploitation as well as questions they can ask their financial institutions that can help them determine the institution’s ability to detect diminished financial capacity, financial abuse, and prevent financial losses.

U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury)

The Treasury announced that the Financial Stability Oversight Council has published its 2017 annual report describing significant financial and regulatory development, threats to the U.S. financial stability, and recommendation to promote financial stability.

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)

The OCC announced that Comptroller Otting discussed his priorities for the agency and the federal banking system during testimony before the House Financial Services Committee. Otting’s priorities included modernizing the regulatory approach to the CRA, encourage meeting customers’ needs for short-term, small dollar loans and promoting more efficient BSA compliance.

Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)

OFAC has updated the SDN list as of June 15, 2018. The last update prior to this was June 12, 2018.

Questions? Contact the Compliance Hotline: 1.800.546.4465; compliance@nwcua.org.