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Senate approves the Louisiana Equal Pay Act

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BATON ROUGE – Today, Governor John Bel Edwards applauded the Louisiana Senate’s passage of the Equal Pay Act, legislation that would help to eliminate the pay gap between men and women. The Louisiana Equal Pay Act, authored by Sen. J.P. Morrell, is a critical piece of Gov. Edwards’ legislative package for the regular session. The Senate approved the bill by a vote of 28-10.

Gov. John Bel Edwards
Gov. John Bel Edwards

“This is one of the easiest decisions we can make during this session. It is time for women, who make up more than half the population of our state, to earn equal pay for equal work,” said Gov. Edwards. “We must also end the archaic and discriminatory practice of pay secrecy. It has been proven that when salaries are disclosed, it is then that pay disparity can be eliminated. Our wives, mothers and daughters miss out on hundreds of thousands of dollars over a lifetime because of this wage gap. I commend the members of the Senate for their decision, and I look forward to working with legislators in the House to sign this bill into law.”

According to a recent study by the advocacy group National Women’s Law Center, the wage gap hasn’t budged in nearly a decade. Over the course of their careers, female workers in Louisiana face the highest pay discrepancy in the nation, some $671,840 in lost wages, pension benefits, and Social Security. In addition, a recent survey highlighted that nearly 90 percent of Louisianans support equal pay for equal work.

Camille Moran is an advocate for women’s rights and a small business owner from Natchitoches. “The gender pay gap is real, and it affects not only Louisiana women, but families and the economy as a whole,” said Moran.

Simone Burni Courere, owner of Demo Diva Demolition in New Orleans started her construction company after Hurricane Katrina. “When I hire a truck driver or bobcat operator I don’t see gender, I see workers,” said Simone. “The position pays this amount black, white, Hispanic, male or female. If we want to be game changers, we need to be pay changers and everyone should have the right to receive equal compensation for their skills.”

“Across the country today, there are women earning less than men simply because they are women,” said U.S. Deputy Secretary of Labor Chris Lu. “When women succeed, America succeeds, and that means putting in place common sense equal pay policies that help level the playing field for half of Americans.”

Good Equal Pay Policies Benefit Businesses and Employees

  • Businesses that do not have fair pay practices suffer from lower productivity and the higher costs of employee turnover.
  • Lifting pay secrecy is important, but employers should also be provided additional incentives and guidance to examine their pay practices and proactively correct any discrimination.
  • No one wants lawsuits, and an effective complaint process will help avoid them – while getting the question of potential discrimination answered and, if needed, corrected. SB 254 gives employers ample time to address employees’ grievances, thereby reducing the potential for lawsuits.
  • Good pay equity policies level the playing field for businesses that want to pay fairly.