How the Equal Pay Act Could Open Your Business to Lawsuits

Date: May 03, 2016

NFIB counters flawed assertion that litigation would be limited.

How the Equal Pay Act Could Open Your Business to Lawsuits

The
Louisiana Equal Pay Act (SB254) passed the Senate in mid-April, and advocates
have been vocal about claims that the process outlined in the bill will limit
the possibility of lawsuits, even though the law provides new opportunities for
litigation over payment issues.

Dawn
Starns, NFIB’s Louisiana state director, has stood up for small business in
crying foul to these claims.

 Under
the bill, if an employee brings forth unequal pay allegations, an employer has
60 days to refute the claim or amend the employee’s pay. If the employee and
employer don’t come to an agreement on their own, the matter can then be taken
to the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights. This panel, a nine-member board
appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate, will review the case,
examine various reasons for different payment rates, such as merit or
seniority, and then release their findings in favor of either the employer or
the employee. However, after the panel’s findings are released, the employee
can still file a lawsuit, even if the panel rules in favor of the employer.

Even
if the business owner doesn’t lose the final lawsuit, he or she has still had
to spend money on a lawyer and time on gathering documentation and evidence to
refute the claim—which may not exist at a small business that doesn’t have a
dedicated human resources department. Furthermore, the legislation’s language
about what constitutes “equal work” is vague and confusing, which will no doubt
be the primary driver of potential litigation.

“We
have the protections necessary now to enforce equal pay, and we believe that
adding an additional layer of law and litigation opportunities has a negative
impact on small business owners,” Starns said in her testimony before the
Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee. 

SB254
now goes to the House Labor Committee.

Related Content: Small Business News | Economy | Labor | Louisiana

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