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Employers Have to Pay Equal Wages for Equal Work

February 18, 2002
By: JiaoJiao Shen
State Capital Bureau

Victims of lower wages because of gender will no longer have to fight discrimination, under a new equal pay bill. JiaoJiao Shen reports from the Capitol.

OutCue: SOC

Missouri state and business employers would have to start paying their employees equal wages.

A new equal pay bill, proposed by St. Louis Representative Joan Bray, says if the employees are doing the same work in the same setting, they have to be paid the same amount of money.

Bray says women are particularly affected by gender discrimination in the workplace.

RunTime: 11
OutCue: if they need it
Contents: Bray says women in Missouri are still paid 74 cents to the dollar and they need a law to back them up and access to the court if the need arises.

This bill does not only impact state employers. Represesntative Kate Hollingsworth says private business employers are just as affected by this bill as any state business.

Although pay in private industries is primarily a private matter, employers of these businesses could get punished if they violate the equal pay bill.

RunTime: 16
OutCue: among all workers of the state
Contents: Hollingsworth says pay in private businesses is a private affair, but a cause of action could be taken if emploiyers don't pay equal wages. She says this goes to fairness and equal pay among all workers of the state.

The equal pay bill applies to all employees in Missouri. The bill is not limited to women only in the workforce.

Bray says if a man is getting paid less than a woman in the workplace, then this bill applies to his case as well.

RunTime: 7
OutCue: compared to women
Contents: Bray says this bill represents gender equity and it helps men just as much as women, if he's getting paid less compared to a woman.

The Labor Committee revised this bill during an executive session last week.

The Committee approved of an amendment presented by Representative Richard Byrd that covered the awards an employee would receive in court.

RunTime: 10
OutCue: what the defenses are
Contents: Byrd says the amendment would allow employees to collect attorney's fees and costs, punitive damages if there is retaliation, and clarify what the elements and defenses are.

Byrd says this awards amendment increases the chances of the gender equity bill passing in the Senate.

Representative Bray says there would be a transition period if the bill is passed in Senate.

RunTime: 10
OutCue: done very very thoughfully
Contents: Bray says people don't go to court very easily because it's personally and financially draining and it takes a lot of time.

A House Committee passed the revised version of the equal pay bill to the Senate last week.

From Jefferson City, I'm JiaoJiao Shen.