The equal pay bill, sponsored by Rep. Adline Clarke,D-Mobile, won unanimous approval from the State Senate late Wednesday.
The legislation, which would prohibit an employer from paying any of its employees at lower rates than those paid to employees of the opposite sex for substantially similar work, recently also received unanimous approval by the House.
“This legislation is especially important for women, who too often are paid less than men for the same work,” Clarke said in a statement. “With that said, the passage of this legislation is important for all our working men, women and families across the state because when we treat everyone equally and ensure a level playing field, everyone benefits.”
The Senate version, which was carried by Sen. Vivian Figures, D-Mobile, includes an amendment giving workers two years to address discriminatory pay. The House version had provided only one year to address a pay disparity through the court system. The Senate version also states that an employee who files a claim against his or her employer must provide specifics and details, not just general allegations.
The Senate also approved an amendment that states an employer shall not refuse to interview, hire, promote or employ an applicant, or retaliate against an applicant for employment because the applicant does not provide wage history. The bill went back to the House Thursday afternoon, where legislators concurred the change.
After clearing both legislative bodies, it now heads to Gov. Kay Ivey’s desk to be signed into law.
Lilly Ledbetter, a native Alabamian, is an equal pay advocate who has supported Clarke’s attempts to pass a similar bill for years. Upon its final passage Thursday, Ledbetter released a statement calling it “a good day for women and all the citizens of Alabama.”
“I’m proud that my home state has finally passed this important legislation, which ensures greater fairness in the workplace,” Ledbetter wrote. “While women are those who most often suffer because of pay disparity, the lack of these protections impacts us all.”
Though similar bills have failed in previous years, Clarke’s 2019 equal pay legislation has enjoyed wide bipartisan support. In fact, after approving the bill Thursday, all 98 STate Representatives who voted to approve the legislation agreed that the entire House would be added as co-sponsors.
The original House co-sponsors included Representatives Alexander, Baker, Boyd, Bracy, Coleman, Collins, Drummond, Faust, Fincher, Forte. Gaston, Givan, Gray, Hall, Hatcher, Hollis, Lawrence, McCampbell, Moore (M), Morris, Nordgren, Rafferty, Rogers, Rowe, Scott, Shaver, Shiver, Stringer, Warren, Wilcox and Wood (D).
If the law is signed into effect by Ivey as expected, Alabama will become the 49th state to pass a law prohibiting employers from paying workers differently based solely on their gender.
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