State Law: Idaho


The Law

Idaho General Statutes, Title 67, Chapter 59 makes it illegal for an employer or labor organization to discriminate against someone on the basis of sex.

Under the Idaho statute, an "employer" means "a person, wherever situated, who hires five (5) ormore employees for each working day in each of twenty (20) or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year whose services are to be partially or wholly performed in the state of Idaho, except for domestic servants hired to work in and about the person's household. The term also means: (a) a person who as contractor or subcontractor is furnishing material or performing work for the state; (b) any agency of or any governmental entity within the state; and (c) any agent of such employer."

Thus, the Idaho statute against discrimination in the workplace applies to all employers with five or more employees, while Title VII only applies to employers with 15+ employees.

Title 67, Chapter 59 specifically covers employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, age, sex, national origin, disability, discriminatory wage rates based on sex (equal pay for equal work), and retaliation. Idaho General Statutes, Title 44, Chapter 17 specifically makes it unlawful for employers to have discriminatory wage rates based on sex.

The Act says, "No employer shall discriminate between or among employees in the same establishment on the basis of sex, by paying wages to any employee in any occupation in this state at a rate less than the rate at which he pays any employee of the opposite sex for comparable work on jobs which have comparable requirements relating to skill, effort and responsibility. Differentials which are paid pursuant to established seniority systems or merit increase systems, which do not discriminate on the basis of sex, are not within this prohibition."

The Idaho Act against wage discrimination requiring "comparable work" is an easier standard to meet than the federal Equal Pay Act’s "equal work" standard. This may be an incentive to file suit under the state equal pay act rather than the federal Equal Pay Act.

Filing A Complaint

The Idaho Commission on Human Rights investigates complaints filed with it free of charge. Complaints under state law must be filed within one year of the date you became aware you were being discriminated against or the date of the alleged illegal act. You may file a complaint with the Commission by calling (208) 334-2873 or 1-888-249-7025. You can also write to the office at P.O. Box 83720, 1109 Main Street, Suite 400, Boise, ID 83720-0040.

Once you file a complaint with the Commission, the Commission will send your employer a letter and a copy of your complaint, stating that you believe you were/are being discriminated against. The employer will have an opportunity to respond to this complaint. Click here for sample form.

The Commission attempts early settlement with most complaints, after which it will conduct an investigation if the complaint is not settled at that time. An investigator will be assigned to your case, who will act as a neutral decision-maker to determine whether there is probable cause to believe you have been discriminated against and your rights violated.

If probable cause is found, you and your employer will be required to attempt to negotiate a settlement through formal conciliation. If settlement negotiations fail, the Commission may file an action in district court on your behalf. If this happens, you will not have to incur any legal expenses or other costs, unless you hire your own private attorney.

The Commission’s goal is to complete most cases in six months; the longest time period it will take for a case to go through the conciliation process is one year. However, this time line is extended if the Commission or you decide to file suit in court.

You may decide to go through the federal or state court process instead of the Commission’s investigative process. You must first file with the EEOC or Idaho Commission on Human Rights and request a Notice of Right to Sue in order to file in court. The attorney you hire will explain this process to you. Many Idaho attorneys choose to file employment discrimination cases in federal court. However, most cases may be brought in either state or federal court. State law limits the amount of damages and attorneys fees you can receive.

For more information and a more detailed explanation of the complaint process, please visit the Idaho Commission on Human Rights website.