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Politics and Government

Legislation Removes Restrictions, Increases Fines For Equal Pay Violations

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State Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman, is pushing a bill this session designed to close the pay gap between men and women. She says women in Oklahoma make an average of just 73 percent of what their male counterparts do.

“That's not including minority women,” Virgin said. “Latina women make 55 cents on the dollar for men. And Native American women and African-American women are at 63 to 65 cents."

Virgin says her legislation, which is co-authored by state Rep. Jason Dunnington, is also about transparency. It changes current laws that prohibit employees from asking or talking about their co-workers' salaries.

"A lot of policy manuals at private employers say you can't talk about your pay with your co-workers,” Virgin said. “And so what our bill would do is make sure that women can have those conversations, and make sure they're being treated equally. So they wouldn't fear retribution for having that conversation with their male counterpart."

Current state law does dictate businesses provide equal pay for performing the same job, but there's only a $50 fine for non-compliance. Virgin’s bill would bump that fine to $200 per pay period.

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