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On June 11, Governor Kay Ivey signed into law House Bill (HB) 225, a substitute version of the Equal Pay Act, now known as the Clarke-Figures Equal Pay Act.
After passing unanimously through each stage of the legislative process in both the House and Senate, HB 225 had its final passage in the legislature on May 31. The Clarke-Figures Equal Pay Act will prohibit an employer in Alabama from paying any of its employees at wage rates less than those paid to employees of another sex or race for equal work.
Sponsored by Representative Adline Clarke (D-Mobile) and carried in the Senate by Senator Vivian Figures (D-Mobile), the HB 225 substitute is an acknowledgment by the Alabama legislature that the gender wage gap in Alabama does indeed exist and needed to be addressed through legislation. Specifically, HB 225 will require equal pay for equal work based on both sex and race and will prohibit employers from retaliating against a job applicant for not providing their salary history.
“Today state leaders conceded that pay inequity will not be tolerated for Alabamians. I applaud their willingness to take this important first step in addressing Alabama’s gender wage gap through public policy,” said Melanie R. Bridgeforth, President & CEO of The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham.
“When women and our allies come together on issues, we can begin to shift the policy paradigm in a direction that is equitable for women and all Alabamians.”
The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham (The Women’s Fund) is Alabama’s first and only foundation accelerating economic opportunities for women through philanthropy, research, and advocacy. Earlier this year, the foundation announced its formal entry into public policy work with its inaugural policy agenda which included addressing gender wage disparities among other core barriers to women’s economic success.
Alabama has the 8th worst gender wage gap in the country and, prior to the signing of this bill, was one of only two states without any pay equity protections. If employed single women in Alabama were paid the same as comparable men, their poverty rate would be reduced by nearly half.
The Women’s Fund applauds Representative Clarke for her leadership on this issue looks forward to working with legislators in the future to strengthen this law which impacts all Alabama women and our state’s economy.