Mississippi is currently the only state without such a provision. 

As early as Wednesday of this week, State Representatives in the Mississippi House could take up the Mississippi Equal Pay for Equal Work Act (HB 770) authored by Rep. Angela Cockerham (I).

Rep. Angela Cockerham

Mississippi is currently the only state in the nation without state level equal pay protections for women.

The equal pay legislation states:

“No employer may pay an employee a wage at a rate less than the rate at which an employee of the opposite sex in the same establishment is paid for equal work on a job, the performance of which requires equal skill, effort and responsibility, and which is performed under similar working conditions, except where payment is made pursuant to differential based on:

(a) A seniority system;

(b) A merit system;

(c) A system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or

(d) Any other factor other than sex.”

A group of bi-partisan lawmakers in Mississippi have been pushing for a piece of equal pay legislation to pass over the last couple of years.

Rep. Becky Currie

“I am proud that Speaker Gunn is working on the bill with us. There were about ten or more bills that were filed this year on equal pay. Representative Cockerham took the best language from all of them plus studied federal law to come up with an excellent bill that everyone should be for,” Representative Becky Currie (R) told Y’all Politics. “It is already federal law but Mississippi is the only state left that does not have a state law that goes hand and hand with federal law and we wanted to remedy that. I am very proud that this bill is coming out and that the burden is not put on women like in previous bills.”

In September, the Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable (BWR) organized an Equal Pay public hearing in which the Mississippi Senate Labor Committee met to hear from national activist Lilly Ledbetter, the National Women’s Law Center, United Way, and other equal rights advocates. 

Attorney General Lynn Fitch

Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch (R) has championed this cause for a number of years. She previously told Y’all Politics that this issue would be on top of her agenda this session.

“The premise of equal pay for equal work is not a Democrat issue or a Republican issue. It is a basic issue of human fairness,” Attorney General Fitch said.

You can view a full version of HB 770 here.

UPDATE:

On Thursday, HB 770, the Mississippi Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, passed the Mississippi House of Representatives by a vote of 111-5.