Feb 26 2006
10:02 am
By: CE Petro  shortURL

TN House Majority Leader wants to give the equal pay law some teeth.  Right now the law, as written, has baby teeth at best. 

House Majority Leader Kim McMillan wants to "put some teeth" in the state's equal pay law by allowing women to sue for punitive damages in addition to lost wages.

"Women in this state, in all avenues of business, make comparably less for performing the exact same work as men," said McMillan, a Democrat who practices law in Clarksville.


Current law allows wage differences based on seniority, merit, quality of production or any "other reasonable differential" other than gender. McMillan would limit the "other" category to "bona fide factors" such as education, training or experience.

Under a 2004 law, employers found to have knowingly violated equal pay rules must make up the difference to their employee. A second violation would lead to a payment of double the difference, and a third violation to triple payments.

The new proposal would give women the additional right to sue for punitive damages beyond the wage difference. Punitive damages are meant to deter and punish misconduct.

Now, you can't expect this amendment to come without opposition.

State Rep. Susan Lynn was among several Republicans on the House Government Operations committee to express concern about the proposal last week.


The bill is also opposed by the state Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the trade association representing 1,500 of the state's largest companies.

Deb Woolley, the chamber's president, said the bill's equal pay title disguises its intent to set up a comparable worth system for compensation, which could lead to "arbitrary decisions about pay."

McMillan's proposed amendment is based on a report from the TN Economic Council on Women, which shows the states blatant inequalities towards women, not just in the wage gap, but education, poverty, and political representation.  You can read the county by county findings here.

McMillan needs to know that there is support for her amendment. 

R. Neal's picture

Susan Lynn's arguments may

Susan Lynn's arguments may have some merit in a perfect (or maybe libertarian) world. But this is the real world, and discrimination of all kinds still exists. It's surprising that a woman would follow the white male dominated GOP party line on issues that affect her personally. Maybe she was properly indoctrinated at a Women Today Expo.

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