Data News Weekly Staff Edited Report
A step forward in history was made Thursday, May 6th in the House Labor Committee of the Louisiana Legislature when HB 245 by Representative Barbara Carpenter passed without objection to the House Floor.
The Independent Women’s Organization (IWO) has worked for many years with a coalition of organizations to fight discrimination in the workplace that affects pay and to lift the secrecy that poisons workplace culture.
HB 245 would allow employees to be able to talk about their wages without fear of being retaliated against or fired and would incentivize businesses to ensure they are using fair pay practices.
The bill would also ban the use of salary history, which can perpetuate discrimination from past jobs or prevent considering candidates whose previous jobs paid too much.
Mary Griggs, IWO President, said, “Louisiana workers and women in particular are struggling financially. Louisiana is at the bottom of economic and well-being lists, so we know that federal law has not been enough to stop the discrimination that keeps us there. Other states are doing better – we need our state legislators to step up and pass HB 245 into state law.”
Julie Schwam Harris, Advocacy Committee Chair, said, “In 2013, the Legislature passed the ‘Equal Pay for Women Act’ that was intended to cover both public and private employment – but was amended to cover only state public employees. It had a provision to allow wage discussion and prevent retaliation and it has worked! The pay gap in state public employment has gone down significantly – 9% – from women earning 84 cents on the dollar in 2013 to earning 93 cents compared to men. This kind of protection for discussion about wages is needed in the private sector in Louisiana where women earn significantly less than men at about 64 cents to the dollar.”
Lisa Diggs, IWO Vice President, said, “As a Black woman who has now started her own business, I know how hard it is to pay for basic family needs and to accumulate the resources to be an entrepreneur. HB 245 will benefit all women and workers but is particularly important for minority women. We can’t wait – we need for workplace discrimination to end now.”
Jessica Cogan, IWO Corresponding Secretary, said, “The good news is that many studies show that businesses that establish a positive workplace culture with more transparency are better off. Their employees are happier, more productive, and loyal, which cuts down on turnover stress and costs. They are also more attractive to dynamic young employees who are tech savvy and know how to find things out online. Secrecy is a thing of the past and we want Louisiana to move into the future!”