Mississippi Governor, Tate Reeves, had three options. He could have vetoed the state’s pending pay equity bill. He did not.
He could have let it come into effect without action. He passed on this path too.
Instead, on April 20, Governor Reeves signed the bill into law. And now every state in the nation has a law prohibiting pay discrimination in some form.
Mississippi’s new law prohibits employers 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 skill, education, effort and responsibility, and which is performed under similar working conditions.”
Like similar laws from many jurisdictions (including at the federal level), Mississippi exempts pay differences “pursuant to differential based on:
(a) A seniority system;
(b) A merit system;
(c) A system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or
(d) Any other factor other than sex.”
The law mirrors the requirements of the federal Equal Pay Act of 1964. But it differs most notably from the recent trend in pay equity laws by including the catchall “any other factor other than sex.” Most recent state and federal laws have limited this catchall.
Mississippi’s new law also differs from many other state (and perhaps federal) pay laws in that:
- It is solely focused on gender, without reference to race-based pay differences;
- It expressly permits an employer to rely on (a) an employee’s salary history, (b) the continuity of an employee’s employment, (c) market competition for an employee’s services, (d) employee attempts to negotiate wages, and similar explanations, as “any other factor other than sex;”
- It does not prohibit employers from inquiring about salary history; and
- It does not require pay transparency for applicants or employees.
This new law goes into effect July 1, 2022.