Attorney breaks down Alabama’s new equal pay law

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) -- Alabama House Bill 225 enables anyone who has been fired, discriminated against, or retaliated against by their employer because of wage inequality to file a lawsuit against them.

“It also allows for what’s called liquidated damages. So in other words, if you were to prove that you were owed $4,000, you would be able to double that amount so you would get $8,000 cause that’s what liquidated damages are,” says Appell.

As an employee, you probably have a manual or a contract that says you can’t ask your coworkers what they make, or you’ll be fired. This law overrides that, so you know whether you should file a lawsuit. The drawback, according to Appell, is it doesn’t provide for attorney fees.

“If somebody files a lawsuit, they’re going to have to pay their own attorney or do it on what’s called a contingency basis where the attorney would get a percentage. The problem with that is there could be such a small amount, it could be in the few thousands of dollars that it may not be a situation where an attorney would want to take the case or somebody would want to pay because most of the pay would go toward the fees and there wouldn’t be any recovery for the person,” said Appell.

It’s not a perfect bill, but Appell says it’s on the right track. “It’s only the right thing to do. I mean you should be paid equal amount whatever race or sex, whether it’s a woman or a man, should be paid equally.”

The law does make exceptions for seniority and merit pay. It also includes a one-year statute of limitations, meaning you must file a lawsuit within a year of discovering a wage discrepancy.

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