House Bill 1241 seeks to preempt local government from providing important employment protection to citizens
Proposed legislation moves state in the wrong direction
(JACKSON, MS) – Equal pay proponents are calling foul on a proposed house bill currently before the Mississippi State Legislature that would thwart local governments’ efforts to provide important employment protection to citizens.
Cassandra Welchlin, director of the Mississippi Women’s Economic Security Initiative (MWESI), a project of MS Low Income Child Care Initiative, said HB 1241 would be harmful to the state’s hard-working citizens.
“Rep. Alyce Clark, D-Hinds, deserves special thanks and recognition for keeping pay equity alive,” said Carol Burnett, executive director of the Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative.”However, the current bill claiming to achieve pay equity is in fact worse than current federal law.”
Said Welchlin, “While we applaud the legislature for acknowledging that wage discrimination exists in Mississippi and that our laws need to be strengthened, HB 1241 will, unfortunately, do just the opposite. HB 1241 would prevent local governments from taking steps to ensure that their citizens are paid well and fairly, have predictable and stable work schedules, and access to paid sick time and family leave–all policies which are crucial to women’s economic security and closing the wage gap,” she said.
Moreover, Welchlin added, “We are disappointed that the amendment offered by Mark Baker to address pay discrimination is just a copy and paste of the federal law standard, with all of its loopholes and inadequacies; it does not give Mississippi women any more protections against pay discrimination, even though such protections are urgently needed.”
Welchlin said the cookie-cutter amendment carves out a whole host of Mississippi women from equal pay protections—including professionals, executives, teachers, and anyone else who is not eligible for overtime pay –in conflict with federal law. The amendment also exempts public employers from complying with state equal pay law, abandoning the thousands of women who have committed themselves to serving public service from guarantees of basic fairness.
“This bill will only set us back in our efforts to close Mississippi’s large wage gap,” Welchlin said. “We will continue to fight for workers and women to secure their rights, and we look forward to continuing our work with the state legislature to ensure economic security and gender equity in Mississippi. HB 1241 does not check the Equal Pay box.”
MWESI is a project of the advocacy organization Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative.