Governor Reeves was joined by Attorney General Lynn Fitch as he signed HB 770.
On Wednesday, Governor Tate Reeves signed the Mississippi Equal Pay for Equal Work Act (House Bill 770), making Mississippi the last state to adopt an equal-pay protection law. The legislation is set to go into effect on July 1, 2022.
The new law provides that, “no employer shall 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; to provide remedies; to provide the time in which a civil action must be filed; and for related purposes.”
In March, Attorney General Lynn Fitch, an avid supporter of the effort, said that when Governor Reeves signs this bill into law, we will join the rest of the nation in promoting the basic fairness of equal pay.
“We will take a giant leap forward in closing the twenty-seven percent pay gap – a pay gap that makes it harder for working women and their families, that leads to young Mississippi women taking their talents beyond our borders, and that perpetuates the cycle of poverty in our State,” AG Fitch said.
Fitch took to Twitter this week to thank all who helped make the legislation possible.
“A day to be remembered for decades to come!” Fitch wrote. “Thanks to the leadership of Legislators like Angela Cockerham, Brice Wiggins, Nicole Boyd, Dana McLean, Tracy Arnold, and Becky Currie, Equal Pay for Equal Work is now the law in Mississippi.”
A day to be remembered for decades to come! Thanks to the leadership of Legislators like Angela Cockerham, Brice Wiggins, Nicole Boyd, Dana McLean, Tracy Arnold, and Becky Currie, Equal Pay for Equal Work is now the law in Mississippi. #EmpowerWomen pic.twitter.com/HMmOiKavHW
— Lynn Fitch (@LynnFitchAG) April 21, 2022
Opinions vary regarding the Equal Pay law. The Mississippi Black Womens Roundtable is one organization not in favor of the legislation.
“Today [March 30, 2022], both the House and Senate passed the ‘Equal Pay for Equal Work Act,’ authored by Representative Angela Cockerham of Magnolia, MS. This act includes the harmful language of HB 770, which we have disputed from the very beginning. The ‘Equal Pay for Equal Work Act’ is everything but an equal pay law and perpetuates gender discrimination and widens the wage gap. The women of Mississippi deserve more than a symbolic, do-nothing law–they need meaningful equal pay protections. Their economic security and that of their families depends on it,” they said in a statement.
The National Women’s Law Center has come out against the bill as well.
“HB 770 is the opposite of an equal pay bill. It rubber stamps employers’ decision to pay women less for equal work. It leaves Black women out. And any Mississippian who chooses to use the alleged equal pay protections in this bill would actually be left with fewer rights than they have now,” the group said in March.
You can view the full text of HB 770 below.