Bills advance that aim to close pay gap, help former inmates


BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Multiple bills advanced with goals to reduce the gender wage gap as well as helping people released from prison get jobs.

A bill by Representative Barbara Carpenter makes it so employees will not be punished for talking about their salaries and the bill by Representative Matthew Willard will make it easier for people to get a job who were formerly incarcerated.”

Rep. Willard emphasized the difficulties people have finding work and housing when released from prison. His bill would remove some of their past record from being considered in the interview process. If someone was arrested but it did not lead to charges, the employer would be asked to disregard the arrest.

Those in support said more need to be done to help inmates be reentered into society to keep them out of prison.

“When have I paid for my crime?,” said Representative Kenny R. Cox. “That is what somebody asked me one day. I didn’t know what to tell them.”

Rep. Carpenter looks to fight the wage gap with her bill. It would keep people from being punished for discussing their salaries. It also would prohibit employers asking about previous salaries in the hiring process. She believes this won’t fix the issue, but it would be a step.

“The Louisiana Equal Pay for Women Act, which includes pay transparency, only applies to state workers. since then the gap between earnings for men and women in state employment has shrunk dramatically by nearly 9%. This is evidence that pay transparency works,” Rep. Carpenter said.

Those against the bill said that asking about previous salaries is a standard practice and should not be included in the bill.

Both bills had suggestions to change the language slightly but they had no objection and they both are headed to the house floor for more debate. 

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