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McCarty speaks against bill allowing Department of Labor to write gender equity guidelines

Associated Industries of Missouri president Ray McCarty says a bill requiring the Department of Labor to establish guidelines on gender pay equity is unnecessary and could be interpreted by the courts as a green light by the legislature for the Department to write guidelines with the force and effect of law without legislative oversight.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Steven Weber (D-Columbia) and was heard in the House Workforce Standards and Development Committee.  HB44 would require the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations to create guidelines for state and local government and private businesses to follow regarding the differences in pay between men and women in similar but different jobs.

McCarty testified before the committee that the bill is not needed, because the Department of Labor already has the power to issue simple “guidelines.”  McCarty also reminded the committee that federal law already states that men and women must receive equal pay for equal work if they are in the same job description and have the same education and experience.  If HB 44 were to become law, it is likely “equal pay for equivalent work” may be the subject of the so-called “guidelines”- a much more controversial and subjective matter that attempts to compare the pay of men and women that do NOT hold jobs with identical job titles or job descriptions, equal experience or education.  Such legislation has been considered and repeatedly bogged down at the federal level because of the difficulty in legislating subjective criteria.

House Bill 44 would essentially allow the Department of Labor to write these controversial guidelines without legislative oversight.  If given the effect of law, legislative oversight is needed and this bill is insufficient.  If not given the effect of law, the bill is unnecessary as the Department of Labor could simply post information about gender equity on its website.

The committee heard testimony on the bill, then set it aside without bringing it up for a vote.

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