Gov. Edwards, along with Democrats in the Legislature, has made it clear from the beginning of his term that labor issues—such as raising the minimum wage and implementing equal pay legislation—are top agenda items. One such proposal is back on the docket for the 2017 regular legislative session, beginning April 10.
The equal pay proposal, prefiled by Sen. J.P. Morrell, is identical to the one that died in the House Labor and Industrial Relations Committee in 2016. Under Senate Bill 2, employees would be able to bring lawsuits against their employers if a pay discrepancy isn’t corrected following a complaint.
Last year, NFIB/LA was heavily involved in fighting the equal pay mandate, particularly because of how it could unnecessarily generate more legal liability for small business owners when anti-discrimination statutes already exist under federal and state law. If the measure is passed this year, employers would not be able to pay workers differently for substantially similar work, the statute of limitations for filing litigation in wage disparity cases would be expanded, potential payouts for personal injury trial lawyers and their clients would increase, and employers would have a harder time defending themselves from meritless claims and could also be found liable for unintentional discrimination.
Stay tuned for updates on this issue in the coming weeks.