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First equal pay bill passed in the Mississippi legislature

A historic day in the Magnolia State with its first ever equal pay bill getting passed in the legislature with an overwhelming amount of support.
Published: Mar. 31, 2022 at 9:10 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A historic day in the Magnolia State with its first ever equal pay bill getting passed in the legislature with an overwhelming amount of support.

The bill will allow women to make the same wage as a man for doing the same job with the exception for seniority, merit, and more.

But Cassandra Welchlin with The Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable says two of those exceptions could be harmful to women: salary history and continuity of employment history.

“We know that when an employee relies on salary history to set pay, they are already embedding gender wage gaps in the workforce from the beginning,” she said. “They’re forcing that woman carry pay from one job to the other job.”

Welchlin says punishing a woman for taking time off to care for a child to be a caregiver can also create a pay gap. “Women will always have gaps in their employment because we are women, and we are caregivers.”

But when asked how it would be fair to pay someone for not working, Welchlin didn’t give a clear answer.

She did explain, however, that the specific language isn’t used in other state’s equal pay laws. By including it, it could give employers an excuse to pay women less.

“We needed a law that will, you know, level the playing field and remove barriers, to keep women’s pay from being discriminated against, and to close that wage gap.”

The bill’s author, Representative Angela Cockerham, says it is “a remedy for its constituents.” Welchlin says she strongly disagrees. “This law is definitely the worst law, if it goes into effect, in the country, in my opinion.”

The bill was passed in the house with a 40 to 5 vote, with 7 not voting at all.

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