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Minnesota Women's Legislative Timeline

Significant Legislation Passed by the Minnesota Legislature Since Suffrage

1982 - State Government Pay Equity Act 

Synopsis: Minnesota passed the State Government Pay Equity Act which addressed the issue of equitable compensation between male and female-dominated jobs. (Laws 1982, Chapter 634)

Legislative History: In 1982, as a result of the task force efforts by the Council on the Economic Status of Women, the Legislature passed the State Government Pay Equity Act. This bill was authored by male and female members of the House and Senate with bipartisan support in the House, and it met little opposition during testimony. The law appropriates funds for the state to establish equitable compensation relationships between female-dominated, male-dominated, and balanced classes of state employees. Occupations were compared using the Hay system, which is a point-based scale, and the evaluation of female-dominated jobs and male-dominated jobs under scores of comparability showed significant pay increases due to those jobs which were classified as 'female.' The pay equity adjustments were phased in over two years and costs were less than 2% of the state's overall payroll during this time.

In 1984, the legislature passed the Local Government Employment Pay Equity Act which extended the comparable compensation systems to local government employees such as teachers, city workers and county employees. (Laws 1984, Chapter 651) At first this law was voluntary, without any enforcement mechanism; however, the law was amended to include the requirement of local government employees to submit a compliance report to the state legislature, and failure to comply would result in financial penalties.

Historical Context: The State Government Pay Equity Act was implemented with ease and there was little disruption of established bargaining relationships. This law came as a response to persistent wage differentials between men and women, despite the passage of federal anti-discrimination legislation such as the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In 1969, Minnesota also passed an 'Equal Pay for Equal Work' law, which prohibits wage discrimination based on gender; the law stated that male and female employees must receive equal compensation for work requiring equal skill, effort and responsibility. (Laws 1969, Chapter 143) This law covers all private employers, regardless of size, but did not cover state or local government employees. Pay Equity legislation also came as a response to court costs addressing pay discrimination cases that were costly to the state and rising in number.

Minnesota's pay equity law resulted in wage increases for men and women alike, and by 1994, almost 95% of Minnesota local governments achieved pay equity. Pay equity in Minnesota has helped diminish the wage gap. Currently, female state employees make nearly 97% of the average earnings for men.

Selected Resources
Pay Equity and Comparable Worth. Data and Resources from the Department of Minnesota Management and Budget

Pay Equity: The Minnesota Experience. St. Paul, MN: Council on the Economic Status of Women, 1994

This is a joint project of the LCC Office on the Economic Status of Women and the Legislative Reference Library.  The project is made possible by the Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund through the vote of Minnesotans on Nov. 4, 2008. Administered by the Minnesota Historical Society.

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