The new law, Mississippi Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, is similar to the EPA but dissimilar to many other state pay equity laws in its narrow scope
On April 20, 2022, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, signed into law House Bill 770, Mississippi Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, which goes into effect July 1, 2022. The law prohibits employers, with five or more employees, from paying “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 skills, education, effort and responsibility, and which is performed under similar working conditions.”
Sound familiar? The language is similar to the Federal Equal Pay Act (EPA) of 1963, which states “No employer having employees subject to any provisions of this section shall discriminate, within any establishment in which such employees are employed, between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees in such establishment at a rate less than the rate at which he pays wages to employees of the opposite sex in such establishment for equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions.”
Also, like the EPA the Mississippi law exempts pay differences based on four criteria: (1) a senior system, (2) a merit system, (3) a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, or (4) any other factor other than sex.
However, the Mississippi Equal Pay for Equal Work Act is different from many other state pay equity laws in that it focuses specifically on gender and does not address race-based pay differences. When considering “other factors other than sex” the employer is allowed to inquire about salary history, continuity of employment, and market competition. The law also does not require pay transparency for applicants or employees.
For the purposes of this law, an employee is defined as an individual who works forty or more hours a week.
The Act may be enforced by private action in a civil suit in circuit court and if the employer is found in violation, the employee shall be awarded reasonable attorney’s fees, prejudgment interest, back pay, and costs of the action.
This law does not require much from employers other than what they have been required by the federal Equal Pay Act. It is more employer-friendly than most other state pay equity laws. It does not require pay transparency and allows inquiries about salary history and other factors that may influence pay decisions.
However, federal contractors located in Mississippi should be aware of OFCCP’s increased focus on pay equity and take proactive efforts to analyze their pay practices. Should you seek assistance in evaluating the application of your pay practices, contact us at 888.414.2410 or email@example.com.