On April 10, The Advocate published a column from Jeff Sadow who was lamenting the passing of Senate Bill 254, the Louisiana Senate bill for Pay Equity. I would like to address two issues he brought up.
First, the statistics used to determine pay inequity are done by the U.S. Department of Labor. They use the same criteria across all the states, job descriptions and race to determine the rankings of the states. We are on the bottom (yet again) in the entire nation.
Mr. Sadow’s contention is that if a woman wants to get paid more, she should negotiate for it. This brings up the second issue, that of secrecy. Many companies, including the one for which I work, have a pay secrecy policy that forbids employees from discussing pay or overall compensation with other employees. Companies can reprimand the employee who discusses compensation or even go so far as to fire that employee.
Please tell me how a person is supposed to know that she (or he) is being underpaid if she cannot discuss this information. The deck is stacked against the employee. This legislation addresses the issue and provides legal recourse against a secrecy policy, including the statement that it is illegal to continue a pay secrecy policy or to punish an employee who does discuss compensation. It is for this reason that this bill must be passed. It is time to shed some light on the issue. Secrecy only benefits the employer.