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Gilliard introduces legislation to prohibit wage discrimination, raise state minimum wage

Savannah Morning News - 2/7/2020

Feb. 7--Georgia House Rep. Carl Gilliard (D-Garden City) has introduced two pieces of legislation that could lead to bigger paychecks for some individuals.

Introduced by Gilliard in late January, Georgia House Bill 804 seeks to prohibit employers from discriminating against individuals with disabilities by paying less than the required minimum wage.

"The bill is designed so that we don't discriminate against them because of their disabilities; we pay them for their worth, so they get fair wages for what they're qualified for and we have a lot of citizens across Georgia that are being unfairly paid," Gilliard said.

"We can't just look at them and what we may deem as their incapabilities and pay them a salary that's really not fair."

Gilliard said he'e been reaching out to organizations that will be affected by the bill, including the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities, in order to make any amendments or changes ahead of a potential hearing.

"We're reaching out to organizations that this bill would benefit from all over the state, so we're reaching out to them to get their feedback and to ask them to get involved," he said.

"I think we'll get fairly good traction on it."

A second bill, Georgia House Bill 805, seeks to raise the state minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $7.25 per hour to meet the federal minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

"Georgia for the last three years is the No. 1 place to do business and Georgia also has to make sure we do business with the people of Georgia," Gilliard said.

While most workers are already covered under the federal law, some are exempted, including executive, administrative, and professional employees; employees of certain seasonal amusement or recreational establishments; and farm workers employed on small farms.

Tipped employees such as restaurant waitstaff, who typically make $2.13 per hour plus tips, are currently covered under the FLSA. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division, if an employee's tips combined with the employer's direct wages of at least $2.13 per hour do not equal the minimum hourly wage of $7.25 per hour, the employer must make up the difference.

Simply put, Gilliard said it's time for Georgia to get it right on paper.

"We have to get it right on paper so that people will not be discriminated against and we know where we need to go," he said.

"There are other movements to move from minimum wage to livable wage, but before we do anything we've got to get this right on paper."

Gilliard said he thinks he'll have the support on HB 805 to get the bill passed.

"People are receptive because it doesn't hurt anyone, it helps," Gilliard said of the bill.

Both of the bills are awaiting hearings with the Industry and Labor Committee. If the bills pass the committee they will head to the Rules Committee for additional hearings before moving to the House of Representatives and Senate for final votes and passage.

Georgia lawmakers announced an unscheduled break on Wednesday, Feb. 5, and will reconvene at 10 a.m.Feb. 18.

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