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Gov. Martinez signs Fair Pay for Women Act

By Vanessa de la Viña, vanessa@kvia.com
Published On: Mar 15 2013 09:00:24 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 15 2014 12:55:05 PM CDT

Vanessa De La Vina reports

LAS CRUCES, N.M. -

A new law in New Mexico should make women's fight for equal pay easier in the state.

On Thursday, Gov. Susana Martinez signed the Fair Pay for Women Act into law.

Employment law attorneys told ABC-7 there could be a lot more women filing pay discrimination lawsuits because of this law. Attorneys says the law makes it easier for women to file lawsuits and win.

"Unfortunately in New Mexico, the average gap between men and women's earnings annually is still over $8,000," said Joleen Youngers, an attorney in Las Cruces.

The National Women's Law Center reports white, non-Hispanic women get paid 78 cents for every dollar a man gets paid. The report shows African-American women make 56 cents per dollar and Hispanic women make 53 cents.

"Hopefully it will bring the issue up to employers. We're going to see employers say wait a minute, maybe we need to look at how we're doing things," Youngers said.

The Fair Pay for Women Act allows pay discrimination lawsuits to be filed in state courts rather than federal courts.

Youngers said that should make it easier for women to file pay discrimination lawsuits since it will be more accessible.

Youngers said the law should also make it easier for women to win.

"The woman doesn't have to prove the employer was evil or sexist, that they intended to discriminate, but rather, the woman needs to prove simply that she did equal work, the same work and did not get equal pay," she told ABC-7.

The Moody and Warner law firm in Albuquerque assists in class action pay discrimination lawsuits involving thousands of women.

Attorney Christopher Moody told ABC-7 the new law could minimize the wage gap in New Mexico by punishing employers.

"It provides a pretty strong disincentive to employers from paying comparable workers different pay because not only would they be responsible under this new law for back pay and attorney fees incurred by bringing the claim, but also there's the potential for punitive damages and that is directed at getting the attention of employers," he said.

The new law will take effect in June.

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