Alabama’s governor is female. Two of Alabama’s congressional delegation members are female. Fifteen percent of the seats in the Alabama Legislature are held by women — four in the state Senate, 17 in the state House of Representatives.
So, why does Alabama continue to be one of two states that has no equal-pay laws that protect women in the workplace? And why does Alabama sit within spitting distance of the nation’s worst ranking for gender pay gap?
We’ll tell you why. Because too many lawmakers — men, mostly — have allowed this chauvinistic, immoral fact to remain during a time when other states and the federal government have made significant efforts to right this inequality. That the namesake of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 — which strengthens workplace pay discrimination efforts — is from Jacksonville can’t be overlooked, either.
This isn’t merely a liberal, Democratic Party talking point. This is about fairness — apolitical, bipartisan fairness. There’s nothing partisan about ensuring that female employees in Alabama are on a level playing field on payday. Which they’re not, by the way.
Only two states — Alabama and Mississippi, the usual culprits — have no state laws that protect women’s workplace pay rights.
Likewise, a new study by the American Association of University Women ranks Alabama 48th among the states and the District of Columbia for the protection of female employees’ pay rights. Alabama’s gender pay gap is an embarrassing 73 percent, as is Indiana’s. Only two states — Utah and Louisiana — are worse. Broken down by congressional district, Alabama’s bottom three are the districts of U.S. Reps. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, and Mike Rogers, R-Saks.
The similarity among the worst offenders is obvious. They’re states with mostly Republican governments and Republican representation on Capitol Hill who too often trust the free market and employers to self-regulate fairness in their workplaces. That policy is a failure for Alabama women.
Here’s a challenge for Alabama’s lawmakers, especially state Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, and other pacemakers in Montgomery: right this wrong during the next legislative session. Other than ignorance and a lack of appreciation for equality, there’s no defense for letting this continue.