by David Theard
Louisiana’s Equal Pay for Women Act (EPWA), which applies only to public-sector employers, goes into effect August 1. The new law affirms that paying unequal wages to public employees on the basis of sex is discriminatory and violates public policy.
The original bill would have covered both public- and private-sector employees, but it was amended to cover only employees who work for a department, office, division, agency, commission, board, committee, or other organizational unit of the state.
The law’s impact is slight. The Louisiana Constitution already prohibits gender discrimination against public employees, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Louisiana Employment Discrimination Law prohibit employers from considering gender when determining pay.
Under the EPWA, only women can sue. To make a claim, a woman must show that a male employee has the same job, works for the same agency, and is paid more because of his sex.
The law permits paying opposite-sex employees different wages under a seniority system, a merit system, a system that measures earnings based on quantity or quality of production, or a differential based on a bona fide reason other than sex (e.g., education, training, or experience). The EPWA prohibits employers from reducing the wages of other employees to comply with the Act.
The law was covered in more detail in the July issue of Louisiana Employment Law Letter.