Clemmons Equal Pay Bill is Defeated by House Republicans

Chas Sisk, WPLN

March 26, 2015 - A bill meant to even the playing field for wages for men and women was rejected by state lawmakers Wednesday afternoon.

The measure would have let women file wage complaints at their local courthouses. Currently in Tennessee, only federal courts can handle pay discrimination suits.

Rep. John Ray Clemmons (D-Nashville) said federal laws have failed to eliminate the pay gap between men and women. Yet the issue has grown critical as more families have come to rely on womens' earnings.

But Rep. Susan Lynn (R-Mt. Juliet) said the pay gap is overstated. She said many women make less because they take time away from their careers to tend to their families.

"We make different choices than men when it comes to education, when it comes to working,” said Lynn. “I traded several years of my life — eight, to be exact — to be at home with my children."

The measure was one of several Democratic initiatives that were shot down.

Two bills to establish a state minimum wage were defeated, as was a measure that would have extended Tennessee's nondiscrimination law to cover gender identity and sexual orientation.