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Louisiana bill aims to end ‘pay secrecy,’ gender pay gap

Posted at 10:44 PM, Apr 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-02 23:58:45-04

Tuesday was equal pay day, a national day highlighting the wage gap between men and women.

According to the Institute for Women’s Policy, women in Louisiana earn an average of 69 cents for every dollar earned by a man. That gap worsens for black and Latina women, who earn 48 and 52 cents, respectively, compared to white men.

This year, state lawmakers will once again consider legislation to address the issue.

This is the third time New Orleans Sen. J.P. Morell, D-New Orleans, has authored a bill that addresses the gender pay gap.

He said Louisiana still struggles with this form of discrimination, something many women here in Acadiana know all too well.

Sen. Morell’s bill aims to begin fixing those issues. It would allow employees to ask and discuss salaries with their co-workers without getting fired.

“The purpose of that, if you have two people doing comparable work and one person knows that they are being paid definitively less, that person then has the determination of ‘Do I want to stay at this company and work my way up through seniority?’ or ‘Am I talented enough to just put myself on the open market and see what I can make?'” said the senator.

Twenty-two years ago, Amy Jones was one of the only female sports directors in the country, and it was right here at KATC.

“[It was] at a time where it really wasn’t heard of putting a woman on the sports desk,” she reminisced.

However, Jones says it was after she left TV that she experienced inequity at work.

“It was eye opening. You know, I was told to my face, ‘People lobbied for you; it should’ve been you, and they were just not comfortable putting a woman in that position.’ And, as far as the pay situation, there were times that the pay that I was offered was significantly less than the person that actually followed me in the position doing exactly what I did,” she said.

Jones, who now owns her own business, says she hopes to see all people be paid by their skill rather than their gender.

“I think that it’s an issue that we have to address and have to stop wishing that it would go away. You know, I have two young daughters, and my hope is that by the time they enter the workforce, we’ll have dealt with this issue,” she said.

We also reached out to an Acadiana senator who voted against the nearly identical measure last year. He said he agrees with equal pay, but he believed this bill interferes with someone’s privacy and “at-will” employment.