State takes steps towards equal pay

Kandice Johnson

There’s a glimmer of hope for the women of Louisiana. The Louisiana Equal Pay Act—an act that will require private employers to pay women and men the same for the same work—was approved by the Senate with a 28-10 vote.

“It is time for women, who make up more than half the population of our state, to earn equal pay for equal work,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said.

“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.”

Gov. Edwards campaigned on the issue, making it a top concern. Statistics have shown that women nationwide take home 79 cents for every dollar men earn, but women in Louisiana earn 65 cents on the dollar – the highest pay discrepancy in the nation.

As expected, women statewide are happy about the change.

“I’m very excited about the bill because it’s just another step shown to exemplify equality,” said Melaisha Sims, a ULM alumna.

“This bill will give women across the state the reassurance that we are indeed just as good as men when it comes to working,” she added.

Sims also said the passing of the bill in the Senate gives her hope women will be treated equal to men. She also said that if this bill is passed, women will finally “hit the glass ceiling of many corporations that they’ve worked at for years.”

Although the bill has passed in the Senate, New Orleans Senator JP Morrell-D said the bill will be tougher to pass in the House. Morrell said that the House will likely find “something new” to dispute.

Opponents fear the bill will expose businesses to a new flood of lawsuits. In the original bill, an employer has 60 days to either refute an unequal pay allegation or or to start paying the employee fairly. If the issue goes unresolved, then the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights could be asked to review the evidence.

ULM alumna Amber Dixon believes that this bill may be too good to be true.

“It’s been a battle before trying to get the Equal Pay Act passed in the House,” Dixon said.

“Will it get passed in the House this time or not? I’m kind of skeptical. I can just hope it will at this point.”