Ovide Lamontagne, New Hampshire Gov. Candidate, Expresses Discomfort With Equal Pay Laws

Gubernatorial candidate Republican Ovide Lamontagne is seen during a debate with Democrat Maggie Hassan Thursday, Oct. 4, 201
Gubernatorial candidate Republican Ovide Lamontagne is seen during a debate with Democrat Maggie Hassan Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012 in Henniker, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

The equal pay debate entered New Hampshire's gubernatorial race Monday when Republican candidate Ovide Lamontagne discussed his views on the issue, indicating hesitance to support legislation aimed at eliminating wage disparity.

In an interview with ThinkProgress, Lamontagne expressed discomfort with legislation mandating equal pay for men and women.

"I certainly think women should be paid the same as men," Lamontagne said in a Friday interview. "Young workers should be paid the same as older works if they achieve the criteria for salary. But I don't know that it's appropriate for the government to continue to micromanage the workplace."

He continued: "But if there's a legitimate disparity I think there's remedies that are available, for discrimination in the workplace, and if there aren't we should have that legal remedy available."

Lamontagne also said he wasn't "familiar enough" with New Hampshire employment laws to state whether or not there are currently such remedies in place. The state does have an equal pay law, which prohibits discrimination in wages between men and women for "equal work." However, a recent study found that New Hampshire women are paid 65 cents for every dollar a man is paid -- one of the worst income disparities in the United States.

The gubernatorial candidate isn't alone in his hesitance to embrace legislation like the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Another New Hampshire Republican, Tory Mazzola, said in April that equal pay measures were a "handout to trial lawyers because it expands the areas that people can sue their employers unnecessarily."

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a top Mitt Romney surrogate, expressed similar sentiment on Sunday.

"Just because they call a piece of legislation an equal pay bill doesn't make it so," Rubio said on ABC's "This Week." "In fact, much of this legislation is, in many respects, nothing but an effort to help trial lawyers collect their fees and file lawsuits, which may not contribute at all whatsoever to increasing pay equity in the workplace."

Meanwhile, Romney's campaign has repeatedly muddled his stance on the issue, leaving him open to criticism from the likes of former President Bill Clinton.

"Would you have signed the Lilly Ledbetter equal pay law? No answer," Clinton said during a rally last week. "He can't even say whether he would sign a law that is already on the books."



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