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State Democrats support equal pay bill

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House and Senate Democrats have thrown their support behind a bill aimed at shrinking the gender pay gap in South Carolina.

The South Carolina Paycheck Fairness Act would also provide legal protections for employees discussing salary, require employers provide minimum pay information in job announcements and prohibit employers from asking about an applicant’s salary history.

“You can't fight pay discrimination if you have no idea whether you are making less than the man across the hall,” said Sen. Mia McLeod, D-Columbia. “Employees need robust legal protections so they can talk about how much they make without fear of relation from their employer.”

A November study by Payscale found women earn 74 cents on the dollar compared to men, CNN reported, with the pay gap stretching to 64 cents on the dollar for every $1 a white man makes for African-American women and to 54 cents for Hispanic women.

“The Paycheck Fairness Act levels the playing field for women by requiring salary ranges be included in job postings,” said Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell, D-Lancaster. “Transparency around pay ranges helps employees root out unlawful pay disparities and enables better negotiating for compensation and benefits.”

Gubernatorial candidate Rep. James Smith, D-Columbia, along with others, called for the bill to receive a committee hearing as soon as possible.

“Pay transparency legislation will ultimately protect women, minorities and people re-entering the job market, including members of the military re-entering the civilian workforce,” Smith said. “Potential employees should be paid based on their skills and experience, not how much they made in their previous positions.”

Smith brought up the issue in his response to Gov. Henry McMaster’s State of the State Address Jan. 24, pointing out that South Carolina is one of only four states without an equal pay law.

“Women work for South Carolina. South Carolina does not yet work for women,” Smith said.

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