Watered Down Equal Pay Bill Passes State Senate Committee

Thursday, April 7th 2016, 7:32 pm
By: Aaron Brilbeck

A very watered down version of a bill to give women in Oklahoma equal pay for equal work passed a senate committee. And women's rights advocates are not happy about it.

The bill passed in committee, but not before it was stripped of the only language that gave it teeth.

"Well it was language that protects two employees if they talk to each other about their salaries from an employer retaliating against them,” said Danielle Ezell with the Oklahoma Women’s Coalition.

"Employees can't see when there's a wage gap and studies are now showing that when transparencies exist the wage gap shrinks," said Kendra Horn with Sally’s List, a non-profit group that advocates for women in politics.

Right now, employers in Oklahoma can fire employees for talking about their salaries. Backers of equal pay say if employees can't compare salaries they can't see whether there is a wage gap.

Bill author Kyle Loveless says, now that the bill made it through committee, he will re-introduce the language on the senate floor.

"So next week or the week after, it will be on the senate floor. So either through that process or through an amendment, we might be able to work back and restore those provisions," said Loveless, R-District 45.

The legislation does increase penalties for companies that don't pay women equal money for equal work. But again, without this language it's hard for employees to know whether they're being paid fairly.