CHARLESTON, SC – South Carolina remains one of only four states in the country without equal pay protections.
Lawmakers in the state house this week attempted to revisit an equal pay measure. But then, at the last minute, its opponents pulled a delaying tactic, hurting its chances of soon becoming law.
The Democratic-backed legislation would provide legal protections for women if they have reason to believe they received less pay than a man who did the same work, or had the same experience. Part of the goal is to chip away at the gender wage gap.
Women in South Carolina make 80 cents for every dollar the typical man makes — amounting to more than $5 billion dollars in lost wages, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families.
“It’s a serious problem in Charleston and the only protection right now for the worker is the federal law that protects them against discrimination,” said Marybeth Mullaney, an employment attorney.
She speaks with women across the state, hearing stories from those who feel they are being treated unfairly in the workplace.
Equal-pay advocates say the state bill goes a step further than federal laws and would allow workers to recover money for damages if their employer acts prejudicial.
“The bill that’s currently pending before the state legislature offers more protection than the federal in that the federal doesn’t allow for compensatory damages,”said Mullaney. “It would really help workers in South Carolina.”