Missouri law already requires equal pay for equal work among men and women, but Wendy Doyle with the Women’s Foundation said a 2014 report by the foundation shows that Missouri women were paid 71 cents for every dollar a man makes.

Senator Scott Sifton (D-Affton)

Senator Scott Sifton (D-Affton)

“Our research shows that we are losing a combined total of $8 billion due to this wage gap,” said Doyle. “What that could mean in dollars and cents is 73 more weeks of food for a family, eight more months of mortgage and utility payments, nearly 13 more months of rent and 2900 additional gallons of gas.”

Doyle supports Affton Democratic Senator Scott Sifton’s bill that would allow the recovery of underpaid wages based on gender discrimination.

“The good news it’s already illegal, under Missouri law, to pay somebody less just because of their gender,” said Sifton. “The bad news is the existing remedies have proven to be demonstrably insufficient to rectify the injustice of paying somebody less on the basis of gender.”

Ray McCarty with Associated Industries of Missouri opposes the measure.

“While we support equal pay for equal work, that’s already the law. What this bill tries to do is set up equal pay for equivalent work,” said McCarthy. “That’s a much harder nut to crack.”

McCarty said the bill would lead to lawsuits against employers.

“One of the groups that pushes this idea, talked about their successes on comparing wages,” said McCarty. “They had compared school head secretaries with audio visual technicians, they compared registered nursing assistants with plumbers, they compared cashiers to stock clerks.”

Representatives Gail McCann Beatty (D-Kansas City) Stacey Newman (D-Richmond Heights), Lauren Arthur (D-Kansas City), and Stephen Webber (D-Columbia) have filed this session legislation addressing equal pay.

President Obama signed seven years ago the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, to address pay discrimination among men and women.