Leader of the Dorchester County Democratic Party isn't happy about the recent delayed vote on a House Bill proposing equal pay for working women.

A party statement issued March 22 said county Democrats believe Rep. Chris Murphy, R-North Charleston, "slyly tripped that step" in helping the state move closer to ending the wage gap.

In the release, party Chair Ethel Campbell voiced her disgust over Murphy's actions.

"Murphy tried to use tricks to avoid that vote, apparently because he knew it would pass," she said in the release. "This only adds insult to injury."

Murphy is chair of the House Judiciary Committee, which reviewed House bill 3599, the "South Carolina Equal Pay for Equal Work Act," on Tuesday.

Even if the bill passes later, Campbell said she won't forget Murphy's actions.

But in talking to the Journal Scene on Thursday, Murphy defended his decisions. He said the committee had minimal time to properly review the bill and even explained the time crunch to Orangeburg County Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, the bill's sponsor.

"I told her at that time that this bill was not something we could rush through in the time I had allotted," Murphy said.

He also stated Cobb-Hunter was OK over the bill's delay.

"She understand and agreed that no action should be taken...but appreciated me working it in for her," Murphy said.

The Dorchester County representative is also not on board with all parts of the bill and said he believes they need to be addressed before "advancing from my subcommittee."

"While the bill is well-intentioned, it does have some issues."

But according to Rob Groce, one of the party's executive representatives to the state, Murphy should've brought up his objections in subcommittee "instead of using sneaky maneuvers to get it tabled."

"To not allow it to come to vote...when that subcommittee called it to vote, is rather authoritarian and misrepresentative," Groce said.

Murphy additionally explained how in many places the House legislation simply repeats points already included in the federal Equal Pay Act.

"An employee that has been the victim of discrimination (i.e. makes less money but performs the same job) can file suit through the EEOC," he said. "The laws are already in place to protect working women."

But Groce said the EEOC is only applicable to particular companies based on employee numbers and other factors.

Murphy also explained his dislike of the House bill prohibiting private employers from asking about a prospective employee's previous wages.

"A lot of time salary information is indicative of experience, and this is vital information in the decision-making process," he said.

At least 46 states currently boast equal pay laws, according to county Democrats. Such laws ensure women aren't paid less for the same work completed by men.

Murphy said he promised to continue working on the bill throughout the remainder of the legislative session.

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