Management & Labor

Equal Pay? Louisiana Lawmakers Say No Way.

by | May 20, 2016

By Mark Ballard

A day after a Louisiana House member proposed weight limit for strippers, a House committee, as expected, voted down Thursday legislation demanding equal pay for men and women.

The House Labor and Industrial Relations Committee voted along party lines -- with the exception of one Democrat -- to involuntarily defer the measure.

The one Democrat, Rep. Willie Hunter, of Monroe, said he voted to take advantage of parliamentary rules that could allow him to bring the bill back up again. Though all admit that is an unlikely scenario.

Senate Bill 254 would have set up procedures and timelines through which employees who feel they are being paid less because of their gender could rectify the situation with their employers. If a resolution could not be found, the employee would have the right to file a lawsuit.

An amendment by Hammond Rep. Chris Broadwater, a Republican who had previously opposed the measure, would have limited, but not eliminated, those lawsuits. It was a compromise worked out over several weeks with Sen. JP Morrell, D-New Orleans and chief sponsor of the bill, and Gov. John Bel Edwards, who campaigned on getting an Equal Pay measure passed.

Broadwater said he hoped that the compromise in his amendment would persuade enough Republican members of the committee to drop their opposition. Business groups, such as the Louisiana Association of Business Industry, said Broadwater's efforts weren't good enough.

His recommendation was voted down.

Additionally, several supporters referred to an amendment on a bill debated Wednesday -- setting a maximum weight for strippers offered to legislation that set the minimum age for dancers in strip clubs at 21 years old. Women legislators erupted that such an amendment was demeaning.

Rep. Helena Moreno, D-New Orleans, held up the front page of The Advocate and asked the members of the House Labor committee to at least let the Equal Pay bill to the floor so that the entire House could debate it. That would change the headlines that are now going around the country, she said.

(c)2016 The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.

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