/Black women’s group says equal pay proposals have ‘glaring flaws’

Black women’s group says equal pay proposals have ‘glaring flaws’

Cassandra Welchlin (director of the Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable), was flanked at the Capitol by more than a dozen female lawmakers. The group placed the purses on all 174 legislators’ desks. The group also included its call for the fix of what it calls glaring flaws to pending equal-pay legislation. READ MORE: Mississippi’s House votes for equal pay. This year, Mississippi is the last state to provide legal recourse to the state for employees who are paid less for the same work due to sex. Several bills for equal pay are currently pending in the Legislature. Last week, the House passed House Bill 770. The Senate is currently considering Senate Bill 2451, and Senate Bill 2452. These bills will create an “actionable state right” for employees who are paid less for the same work due to sex. This right is already provided by federal law. However, aggrieved employees will need to take an employer to court in order to get it rescinded. According to the Black Women’s Roundtable, HB 770 was authored by Rep. Angela Cockerham. It “rubber stamps an employer’s decision to pay women less” by allowing them use their salary history as a basis for pay. It would not apply to part-time workers or employers with more employees than five. It does not provide any protection for women of color, and requires that women waive their federal rights to claim if they file a state case. Cockerham stated that women would be forced to decide whether they want to file a federal or state claim during passage of the bill in Congress. Leaders of the Black Women’s Roundtable said that Senate Bill 2451, authored by Republican senators, has “glaring flaws”. They said it requires employees to “pleading with particularity”, which is a higher burden of proof. It would also provide less damages than federal law, and there is no protection against retaliation. Wiggins stated that the bill he co-authored was a conservative approach. “That means) the government will not be last on the issue, but it won’t infringe upon the rights of businesses,” Wiggins stated. A part of the debate was that people don’t want the government to intrude into private businesses. BWR asked for legislators to either amend the two bills at their forefront with the Legislature or to support SB2452, written by Senator Angela Turner-Ford. Recent studies have shown that women account for 51.5% and almost half of Mississippi’s workforce. This state has 53.5% of the nation’s highest percentage of women as primary breadwinners. Women who work full-time in Mississippi make 27% less than men. This gap is much larger than the national 19% gap. This gap is even more pronounced for Black and Latina Mississippi women, who earn just 56 and 54 cents for each dollar earned by white men. Mississippi’s 60% of the workforce is made up of women, with nearly 60% living below poverty line. In almost every ranking of working women, Mississippi has been ranked at the bottom or very close to the bottom. BWR members said Thursday that closing the Mississippi pay gap would decrease the number women living in poverty by half and the number children living in poverty by one-third. Maria Serratos (a Mississippi State University engineering student) joined the call for equal wages at a press conference held at the Capitol. Serratos stated, “Why should I remain in a state which devalues me by offering 54c for the same work that a man earns $1?” This state won’t grow if women in the state don’t have a chance at success. Editor’s Note: Mississippi Today has paid for advertisements by Black Women’s Roundtable. Mississippi Today clearly distinguishes between news and advertising content. Mississippi Today editorial decisions are independent of advertisers.