Louisiana has finally passed the Louisiana Equal Pay for Women Act. However, there is a catch! While the original version applied to all public and private employers with over 15 employees, it was completely stripped to only apply to state workers by Sen. Patrick Cortez, R-Lafayette.
Nonetheless, the Louisiana Constitution already prohibits gender discrimination in the state civil service system. In fact, the state civil service system already makes pay equal for men and women doing the same job pursuant to a classification and pay plan in which one cannot be discriminated against due to sex. Indeed, if a female state civil service employee was being discriminated against, she has always had the ability to appeal to the State Civil Service Commission.
Therefore, there really was not a problem with wage disparity between men and women doing the same work in the same job for state employees.
So, it looks like the amended version of the legislation addresses a virtually nonexistent problem. The governor signed the amended version of the act several days ago, and I am sure some people think this actually did something for women, when it did not do much at all, since there is not a problem in the public sector. The problem is in the private sector.
Wake up, Louisiana lawmakers, because anti-discrimination for gender in pay when it comes to state workers has already been the law since approximately 1974 in Louisiana! So, how about trying something new? Make it apply to all employers.
There was legislation passed in 1997 by our lawmakers to prohibit discrimination in employment because of sex; however, one could argue now that the Louisiana Equal Pay for Women Act was stripped from covering private employers, it has tacitly repealed portions of the 1997 legislation.
Interestingly enough, the Federal Equal Pay Act to eliminate wage disparity between men and women was signed by President John F. Kennedy in 1963. So, how come Louisiana cannot pass parallel legislation in the year 2013?
If the argument is there is no need to enact parallel legislation between state and federal laws, then how come our Louisiana lawmakers have no problem passing parallel legislation when it comes to other issues?
I am outraged at our lawmakers for amending original Senate Bill 153. My questions is simple: Why is discrimination against women acceptable to you when it comes to pay for equal work if they work for a private employer, but not when they work for a public employer? This is nonsense. Let us not forget we all have a mother, and there is not one of us that would think our mother should get paid less just because she is a woman!
Misty Shannon Antoon
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