Gender wage gap bill introduced in MS State Legislature

Gender wage gap bill introduced in MS State Legislature

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Equal pay for equal work is the goal of a newly introduced bill in the state legislature, and it's an idea women in South Mississippi can rally behind.

"It's 2017 and we're still fighting for the same pay as men," said Biloxi resident Catherine Miranda.

According to the National Partnership for women and families, Mississippi women make 77 cents for every dollar paid to men. Miranda said she can relate to that statistic with jobs she's had in the past.

"A couple of times I did find out that some of my male colleagues were making more than I was doing the same exact job," Miranda said.

State Representative Sonya Williams-Barnes from Gulfport is sponsoring a bill that would close the gender wage gap.

"This will prohibit wage discrimination on the basis of gender and require equal pay for equal work, said Williams-Barnes.

The proposed legislation would: 
•    Require equal pay for comparable work
•    Protect seniority level of employees who take leave due to pregnancy or family/medical emergencies
•    Ensure jobs offered by the same employer providing more opportunities for merit-based pay increases are equally accessible to all genders
•    Prohibit employers from seeking the wage or salary history of a job applicant as a condition of employment, unless they volunteer the information

"It's just another barrier of discrimination that has been going on in our state and other states, and women in Mississippi would win because they would be able to knock down that barrier," said Williams-Barnes.

Williams-Barnes said other legislators have introduced similar bills and she believes support is there to pass at least some of the proposal.

"This isn't about politics or party affiliation," Williams-Barnes said. "This is about paying our bills, sending our children to college, putting food on the table and simply making ends meet every single day."

Catherine Miranda said she receives equal pay at her current job, but she still would like to see improvements made for other women.

"I really do hope that it ends up making a change and a difference and we're all equal like we're supposed to be."

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