Tennessee wasn’t alone implementing new laws on July 1, as two of its neighbors to the south also added new employment laws. The newly enacted Equal Pay Act in Mississippi became effective on the 1st of this month making the Magnolia State the last in the nation to enact a pay equity law. Under its provisions, all employers with five or more employees working in Mississippi are prohibited from paying employees of one sex who work a minimum of 40 hours per week less than the rate paid employees of the opposite sex for equal work. As is the case with most equal pay laws, there are exemptions for pay discrepancies based on a seniority or merit system, as well as systems which measure earnings by the quantity or quality of work produced, or any factor other than sex. With the Equal Pay Act now on the books in the state, claims concerning gender-based pay discrimination may also be brought in Mississippi state courts. And next door in the Heart of Dixie, Alabama has enacted the Adoption Promotion Act, effective July 1 as well. This law expands existing family leave in the state to include adoptive parents, requiring qualifying employers – those with 50 or more employees – to provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for both the birth or care of a child during the first year after birth or placement of an adopted child. The Alabama state leave runs concurrently with other leave provided by federal law, and the eligibility requirement also mirrors Federal Family and Medical Leave. To be eligible for the leave, an employee must have completed at least 12 months of employment and worked at least 1,250 hours during that period.