Several new laws kick in next week, including important changes affecting employees, businesses and drivers in Alabama.
Alabama, home of Lilly Ledbetter, namesake of a federal equal pay act, became the 49th state to enact its own equal pay provision earlier this year – which starts on Sept. 1. The new law prohibits employers from paying some employees less than others because of race or gender. People who believe they have been paid less due to discrimination will be able to sue in state court as well as federal court after the law takes effect.
Employees who believe their race or gender has kept them from receiving fair pay will have two years to file lawsuits in state court. The new makes changes to the types of pay records employers are required to keep.
The new law applies to both public and private employers, with no exception for small businesses. Mississippi is now the only state without its own equal pay law.
Alabama drivers will also have to follow a couple new laws starting next week. As of Sept. 1, all passengers in a car, including those in the backseat, must be buckled up. Previously, only children riding in the backseat had to wear seatbelts. The law makes failure to wear a seatbelt a secondary violation, which means an officer may issue a ticket if they car has been stopped for another reason.
According to the Alabama Department of Transportation, 60 percent of the people who died in traffic accidents in 2017 weren’t wearing seatbelts.
“It’s a big step, one we have been pushing for a while,” said Marie Crew, director of SAFE Kids Alabama at Children’s. “The back-seat seatbelt law is a good next step, but honestly, we’ve got a long way to go. Our state is behind in terms of any kind of legislation involving hands-free technology. Research tells us that requiring drivers to utilize hands-free technology will make our roads safer. Our teen driver safety percentages are still alarmingly high, and motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death and injury for teens in Alabama.”
Some drivers will also have to change where they drive on Alabama highways. The “anti-road rage act” creates a violation for driving in the left lane for more than one-and-a-half miles without passing. It’s intended to keep slow drivers out of the left lane and prevent slowdowns in highway traffic.
The bill makes exceptions for inclement weather, left exits, congestion and construction. There will be a 60-day grace period where officers will hand out warnings instead of tickets.
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