Rick Perry Vetoed Texas' Equal Pay Act

Texas Governor Rick Perry has vetoed our state's Equal Pay Act. Texas would have been the 43rd state to adopt such a law. The bill he vetoed, House Bill 950, was authored by State Rep. Senfronia Thompson of Houston and State Senator Wendy Davis of Fort Worth.

A description of the bill, from the Texas Tribune:

House Bill 950, by state Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, would make Texas law mirror protections of the federal Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. [...]

The measure clarifies that pay discrimination claims based on "sex, race, national origin, age, religion and disability" accrue whenever an employee receives a discriminatory paycheck. Under the measure, a 180-day statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit resets with each new discriminatory paycheck.

Perry's veto comes at the same time he has put extremely divisive abortion issues on the call for a special session, furthering his war on women.

Why a State Law Is Needed to Supplement the Federal Lilly Ledbetter Act

It is important to note why Texas needs a state law to mirror the federal Lily Ledbetter Act. The following bullet points are summarized from the bill analysis for HB 950:

  • The "Fort Worth Court of Appeals ruled recently...that Lilly Ledbetter protections do not apply to state cases absent action by the legislature"
  • The state law is needed to "provide uniformity between state and federal anti-discrimination laws so that employees and employers have consistent laws governing employment relations"
  • Further, the law will "allow parties to proceed in a nearby state court, while at the same time avoid the increased expense of having to proceed in a federal court which may be far away"
  • Finally, the Texas Supreme Court issued a decision on August 31, 2012 in Prairie View A&M v. Chatha, and made it clear that Texas law does not provide the protections of the Lilly Ledbetter Act

Audio: Sen. Wendy Davis Decries Governor Perry's Veto of Equal Pay Act

The Houston Chronicle captured the audio of the Texas State Senate Democrats press conference denouncing Perry's veto. The following is from Senate Democrat Wendy Davis:

"The veto - combined with his call to add a number of controversial bills that would adversely affect women's health - exhibits a concerted effort by the Governor to attack and erode women's rights and quality of life. I think Texans everywhere are not just disappointed but shocked that Governor Perry has vetoed bipartisan legislation to make sure that Texans receive equal pay for equal work. Texas families all across our state whether they are supported by single mothers or by working mothers and fathers deserve to be paid fairly for the work that they do. By vetoing the Equal Pay for Equal Work bill, Governor Perry shows a callous disregard for the wages that are required to support Texas families."

You can listen to the whole press conference here: