Mississippi Passed an Equal Pay Bill; Advocates Worried

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 is a U.S. law that prohibits employers from paying different wages to men and women who work under similar conditions and whose jobs require the same level of skill, effort, and responsibility. The jobs do not have to be identical, but they must be substantially equal. Job content (not job titles) determines whether jobs are substantially equal. Mississippi is the last state in the nation to not have either an equal pay law or a non-discrimination statute that impacts employment. But that will probably be changing soon. Last month (March 2022) the Mississippi state legislature voted to pass a bill (H.B. 770) that awaits the governor’s signature and would require employers to offer equal pay for equal work —ending years of efforts to pass a pay equality measure in the state. While this might seem like a moment for advocates to celebrate, according to this article, some are alarmed by provisions in the final bill, including one that specifically lists applicants’ continuous employment, negotiation attempts, and salary history as factors employers could use to justify a pay gap—the last of which moves in the opposite direction of laws that now ban the question in more than 20 states. Stay tuned.

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