Seven bills were drafted between the House and Senate this session addressing the issue of equal pay for women in the workplace.
The most popularly talked about has been HB 9, also called the Evelyn Gandy Fair Pay Act.
From the bill:
” AN ACT TO CREATE THE “EVELYN GANDY FAIR PAY ACT”; TO PROVIDE 2 THAT THE LEGISLATURE DISCOURAGES WAGE DISCRIMINATION AGAINST 3 WOMEN; TO CLARIFY WHEN AN UNLAWFUL EMPLOYMENT PRACTICE OCCURS; TO 4 CLARIFY THE REMEDIES FOR SUCH DISCRIMINATION; AND FOR RELATED 5 PURPOSES.”
State Treasurer Lynn Fitch said a study was done by the Mississippi State Economist’s Office in December of 2016 to determine the pay gap and wage differences between men and women in the state.
The study found that there is a 27 percent pay gap in Mississippi, that’s 8 percent higher than the national average of 19 percent.
“It’s time to close this gap, it’s time for Mississippi to step up and make positive moves toward acknowledging that Mississippi women deserve equal pay for equal work,” said Fitch.
Mississippi is only one of two states in the U.S. that do not have an equal pay law. The other state is Alabama.
There is a federal law to enforce equal pay, however the 48 other states with state laws to support the federal mandate found a benefit in additional protections on state level.
“This is another reason to very seriously have the conversation and take action on behalf of the women that are part of the workforce in the state of Mississippi,” said Fitch.
According to the study today’s wage gap costs a woman $375,400 over a 40-year career. The largest pay gaps are in white-collar professions, especially finance.
Fitch says this is not a Democratic or Republican issue, but a human issue.
“If we don’t begin to empower women, we will not be able to pull them out of that poverty cycle which will in turn pull their children out of the poverty cycle, which is why it is so important to acknowledge this,” said Fitch.
Other bills addressing the issue include: