Alabama equal pay law goes into effect Sept. 1st

The law will allow employees to sue if they feel they are getting paid less because of their gender or race.

Posted: Aug 27, 2019 5:34 PM
Updated: Aug 27, 2019 7:22 PM

Alabama's new equal pay law goes into effect on Sunday.

WAAY 31 went to Lowe Mill Production Studio, the home to many small local businesses, where employees there and across the state won't only be protected by federal wage equality laws, but a state one as well.

"A little disappointing that we still need a law to tell us to pay people equally, but it seems like a good thing," Caitlin Lyon, a business owner, said.

Lyon and her sister own Pizzelle's Confections, which has all female employees. She said she's seen other people in the service industry get paid unequally based off their gender or race.

"People sometimes don't realize their biases, so maybe this law will make them be a little more thoughtful about what they're doing when hiring and setting salaries for people," she said.

Right now, Alabama employees are only protected under the federal wage equality act, which only applies to gender.

That means you can only sue an employer at the federal level, if you feel you've been paid less because of your gender. The Alabama law goes a step further and includes race.

Come September 1st, employees can sue in state court. If an employer is found to have violated the law, they will be liable for the wages the employee lost, with interest.

As a woman who has worked in the service industry for years, Lyon says she's glad the state has created its own wage equality law.

"As a woman who's had a whole adult working life, I'm glad that it's there," she said.

The law does include one exception for pay differences, and that is seniority. Alabama is the 49th state to enact an equal pay law. Similar measures in recent years had failed.

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