La. Senate rejects equal pay bill for women

Littice Bacon-Blood, Associated Press

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- The Louisiana Senate narrowly rejected a bill Wednesday that would have prohibited employers with at least 15 full-time workers in the state from paying unequal wages for the same job based on gender.

Sen. Ed Murray's Equal Pay for Women Act failed by one vote, with 19 senators voting for it and 18 against. It needed 20 votes to pass the 39-member chamber.

Murray, D-New Orleans, said women in Louisiana make "69 cents for every dollar" that men make for performing the same job duties and holding the same title.

"The only state worse is Wyoming," he said. "This is an important issue for our state. Women ought to be paid the same monies."

Opponents of the bill argued that federal and state statutes already prohibit wage discrimination based on gender and new language was unnecessary.

However, Murray said women who work in states that have enacted similar laws are paid significantly more than in states without such laws.

Sen. Conrad Appel, R-Metairie, owner of a construction and real estate company, said the bill would harm businesses. Companies would fear reprisal and would simply pay everyone the same, regardless of talent, Appel said.

"This will open the door to litigation like you wouldn't believe," he said.

Murray said the proposal lays out guidelines and allowances for higher pay, which would include jobs based on commission or seniority.

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