Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards released details on the legislation he will support in the 2019 legislative session to eliminate the highest wage gap in the nation by ending pay secrecy and promoting transparency in the workplace.
Gov. Edwards announced his backing of Sen. J.P. Morell's legislation, SB 136, to establish pay parity on Equal Pay Day, a national day highlighting the widening gap in earned wages between men and women in the United States. Today, April 2, 2019, symbolizes the fact that women have to work for 16 months to equal the pay earned by men in a 12 month period.
“Simply put, it’s embarrassing that Louisiana continues to have the highest gender wage gap in the nation. When we don't pay women the same as their male counterparts, it harms our communities, our businesses and our families." Gov. Edwards said. "The gender wage gap is an issue that affects us all. It's simple math, not myth, and we must continue to do everything in our power to end this form of discrimination in Louisiana."
According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Institute, Louisiana’s working women will not reach equal pay until the year 2115. Women in Louisiana earn an average of 69 cents for every dollar a man makes. That discrepancy worsens for Black and Latina women who make only 48 and 52 cents on the dollar when compared to White men.
SB 136 by Sen. J.P. Morell (D-New Orleans) provides with respect to wage secrecy and pay discrimination. The legislation would promote pay transparency by prohibiting employers from taking actions against employees for inquiring about, discussing or disclosing their wages or those of other employees.
Current law prohibits employees from disclosing information about pay or wages to other employees.
"Establishing pay parity and transparency in law means working women can make a living wage while caring for their families and making ends meet,” Sen. Morell said. “When there is transparency, there is fairness, and my legislation is just one of the many steps our state must take to ensure that everyone in the workplace is paid equally. It's simply the right thing to do.”
Meaningful and enforceable equal pay legislation has been a priority for Gov. Edwards since his time in the state legislature. Although the legislature has failed to act on an issue that impacts their own families and stakeholders, Gov. Edwards and Sen. Morell will continue to fight for Louisiana's women.
In addition to announcing his support for Sen. Morell's legislation, Gov. Edwards proclaimed April 2, 2019, as Equal Pay Day in Louisiana. Read the governor's proclamation here.