50 States of Equal Pay – Mississippi Equal Pay Act Took Effect July 1st, 2022
The Mississippi Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, signed by Governor Tate Reeves on April 20, 2022, went into effect on July 1st, 2022. The law, which repeats the standards of the federal Equal Pay Act, forbids employers from paying lower wages to one sex compared to wages earned by another sex.
Mississippi is one of the last states to not enact a state law regarding equal pay. The Mississippi law allows for employers to pay different wages based upon “any other factor other than sex”, allowing for wage differences based on seniority, or claims of differing responsibilities.
States such as California have much stronger laws, requiring employers to pay equal wages for work that is “substantially similar” as a composite of skill, effort and responsibility, and bar various defenses for unequal pay such as prior salary history.
The language of the Mississippi Act:
(1) No employer may pay an employee a wage at a rate less than the rate at which an employee of the opposite sex in the same establishment is paid for equal work on a job, the performance of which requires equal skill, education, effort and responsibility, and which is performed under similar working conditions, except where payment is made pursuant to differential based on:
(a) A seniority system;
(b) A merit system;
(c) A system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or
(d) Any other factor other than sex. “Any other factor other than sex” shall include, but not be limited to, the following factors:
(i) The salary history or continuity of employment history demonstrated by the employee as compared to employees of the opposite sex in the same establishment;
(ii) The extent to which there was competition with other employers for the employee’s services as compared to employees of the opposite sex in the same establishment; and
(iii) The extent to which the employee attempted to negotiate for higher wages as compared to employees of the opposite sex in the same establishment.
The Equal Pay Act of 1963
The Equal Pay Act (EPA) was signed into law by John F. Kennedy on June 10, 1963. At the time women earned approximately 60% what men earned, a figure that has risen to over 80% since.
The EPA states:
“(d) (1) No employer having employees subject to any provisions of this section shall discriminate, within any establishment in which such employees are employed, between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees in such establishment at a rate less than the rate at which he pays wages to employees of the opposite sex in such establishment for equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions, except where such payment is made pursuant to (i) a seniority system; (ii) a merit system; (iii) a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or (iv) a differential based on any other factor other than sex: Provided, That an employer who is paying a wage rate differential in violation of this subsection shall not, in order to comply with the provisions of this subsection, reduce the wage rate of any employee.
50 States – Fifty Versions of Equal Pay
With the Mississippi law in effect July 1st, all 50 states have some variation of an equal pay law, in addition to the federal Equal Pay Act. Some states such as North Carolina still do not have a stand alone Equal Pay Act, but instead have anti-discriminatory language and pay-related provisions in other laws.
Below are each states protected classes in their equal pay laws:
- Alabama: Gender, Race
- Alaska: Gender
- Arizona: Gender
- Arkansas: Gender
- California: Gender, Race, Ethnicity
- Colorado: Gender
- Connecticut: Gender
- Delaware: Gender
- Florida: Sex
- Georgia: Sex
- Hawaii: Sex
- Idaho: Sex
- Illinois: Sex, African Americans
- Indiana: Sex
- Iowa: Age, Sex, Race, Gender, Sexual Orientation, National Origin, Religion, Disability
- Kansas: Sex
- Kentucky: Sex
- Louisiana: Sex
- Maine: Sex
- Maryland: Sex, Gender Identity
- Massachusetts: Gender
- Michigan: Sex
- Minnesota: Sex
- Mississippi: Sex
- Missouri: Women
- Montana: Women
- Nebraska: Sex
- Nevada: Sex
- New Hampshire: Sex
- New Jersey: Sex, Race, Gender, Sexual Orientation, National Origin, Age, Disability, Marital/Civil Union Status, Pregnancy Status, Ancestry
- New Mexico: Sex
- New York: Sex, Race, Gender, Sexual Orientation, National Origin, Age, Disability, Marital Status, Military Service, Domestic Violence Victim Status
- North Carolina: No Equal Pay law, separate non-discrimination statute
- North Dakota: Gender
- Ohio: Sex, Race, National Origin, Race, Ancestry, Color
- Oklahoma: Women
- Oregon: Sex, Race, Gender, Sexual Orientation, National Origin, Marital Status, Military Service, Age, Disability
- Pennsylvania: Sex
- Rhode Island: Sex
- South Carolina: No Equal Pay law, separate general non-discrimination statute
- South Dakota: Sex
- Tennessee: Sex
- Texas: No Equal Pay law for private companies, separate Human Rights Act prohibits race, color, disability, religion, sex, national origin, age pay discrimination
- Utah: No Equal Pay law, separate general non-discrimination statute
- Vermont: Sex
- Virginia: Sex
- Washington: Gender
- West Virginia: Sex
- Wisconsin: No Equal Pay law, separate general non-discrimination statute
- Wyoming: Sex
Many states have additional laws protecting classes against discrimination, outside of equal pay laws.
Equal Pay Lawsuits
When protected classes are denied equal pay, a lawsuit against their employers can force them to raise wages, provide back pay for missed unequal pay, and additional damages.
An example of a recent settlement, in California Google agreed to pay $118,000,000 to a group of 15,500 women in a class-action lawsuit alleging unequal pay based on gender discrimination. Separately, Google appears set to pay an additional $22 million to a class of women in New York for similar allegations.
Equal Pay Law Firm
To learn more about pursuing remedies for unequal pay, schedule a case consultation with Schneider Wallace. Our law firm has offices in Northern California, Southern California, Texas, North Carolina or Puerto Rico, and works with co-counsel to represent clients in any of the 50 states. Schneider Wallace Cottrell Konecky LLP is a national law firm that represents employees in a wide range of employment law cases, including class action lawsuits involving the failure to pay wages, overtime pay and commissions, and gender pay discrimination.