Virginia Senate repeals Jim Crow minimum wage law seen as targeting African-Americans

Virginia Senate repeals Jim Crow minimum wage law seen as targeting African-Americans
© Getty Images

The Virginia state Senate has voted to repeal a Jim Crow-era measure that legalized wage discrimination and that was seen as having targeted African-American workers for decades.

According to a local ABC station, the state Senate passed the measure, known as S.B. 1079, in a 37-3 vote on Friday.

The new bill would rescind a previous law that allowed employers in Virginia to pay workers who held jobs many African-American were relegated to years ago — i.e. “newsboys, shoe-shine boys, ushers, doormen, concession attendants and theater cashiers” — less than minimum wage.

ADVERTISEMENT

State Sen. Lionell Spruill (D), who sponsored the bill, told the local station that the previous law’s exemption of those jobs from coverage under the Minimum Wage Act was rooted in the state’s history of racism against African-Americans. 

“There is no reason for the workers in these professions to be paid below the minimum wage,” Spruill told the station. 

“It’s time to end these Jim Crow laws,” he added.

Last year, another bill with a similar aim that was reportedly introduced by state Del. Paul Krizek (D) didn’t make it past committee.

At the time, Krizek said that wage exemptions were “obviously aimed at African-Americans who were in these service jobs because those were the jobs they could get at the time,” according to the station.