Congressman Moran’s News Commentary: 4th Anniversary of Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

January 30, 2013 7:55 PM1 comment

This week, we recognized the fourth anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act – the very first law that President Obama signed upon entering office in 2009. The law was inspired by Lilly Ledbetter, a manager at the Gadsden Alabama Goodyear Tire and Rubber Plant who worked the night shift for 19 years and discovered upon her retirement that she was paid up to $1,500 a month – nearly 20 percent – less than men working in the same job. Lilly took her fight all the way to the Supreme Court — and lost — because she hadn’t filed a complaint within 180 days of receiving her first discriminatory paycheck. Lilly had no way of knowing that she was being underpaid all those years.

By signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law, the President has guaranteed the right of women and other workers to challenge unfair pay. The law now states that a worker can file a complaint within 180 days of any discriminatory paycheck, so that someone facing the same situation Lilly faced would have recourse to justice.

This is important not only for women, but for everyone. So many households rely on both parents working, and protecting women against discrimination protects the whole family. The Ledbetter Law also protects a family’s assets, because lower pay early in life can mean lower Social Security benefits and reduced retirement security.

The Lilly Ledbetter law follows a long tradition of legislative milestones for families. Next week marks the 20th anniversary of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Before its passage in 1993, parents were not guaranteed time off if they had a baby or if they had a seriously ill child or parent. FMLA permits women to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave without fear of losing their job or health insurance to care for members of their family. This landmark legislation has been used over 100 million times since its enactment two decades ago.

Unfortunately, while FMLA and the Lilly Ledbetter Act have helped make the workplace more fair, inequality remains. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women earn just 77 cents for every dollar paid to full-time working men – this adds up to $10,784 in lost income each year. To help fix this inequity, I have cosponsored the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would update the Equal Pay Act to provide more effective remedies to women who are not being paid equal wages for doing equal work.

Specifically, the Paycheck Fairness Act puts gender-based discrimination sanctions on equal footing with other forms of wage discrimination – such as race, disability or age – by allowing women to sue for compensatory and punitive damages. Though the Paycheck Fairness Act passed the House of Representatives in 2009, it was been blocked by Republican leadership in the 112th Congress.

Women make enormous contributions to our workforce and should be recognized appropriately. As a member of Congress, I will keep working for passage of laws like the Paycheck Fairness Act that will improve the quality of life for all Americans.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000589931407 Jerry Boggs

    Here’s why the Ledbetter Act has done nothing even according to the ultra-left, extremely pro-woman Daily Kos.

    No law yet has closed the gender wage gap — not the 1963 Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, not Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, not the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act, not affirmative action (which has benefited mostly white women, the group most vocal about the wage gap – http://tinyurl.com/74cooen), not the 1991 amendments to Title VII, not the 1991 Glass Ceiling Commission created by the Civil Rights Act, not the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, not diversity, not the countless state and local laws and regulations, not the horde of overseers at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and not the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act…. Nor will a “paycheck fairness” law work.

    That’s because women’s pay-equity advocates, who always insist one more law is needed, continue to overlook the effects of female AND male behavior:

    Despite the 40-year-old demand for women’s equal pay, millions of wives still choose to have no pay at all. In fact, according to Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of “The Secrets of Happily Married Women,” stay-at-home wives, including the childless who represent an estimated 10 percent, constitute a growing niche. “In the past few years,” he says in a CNN report at http://tinyurl.com/6reowj, “many women who are well educated and trained for career tracks have decided instead to stay at home.” (“Census Bureau data show that 5.6 million mothers stayed home with their children in 2005, about 1.2 million more than did so a decade earlier….” at http://tinyurl.com/qqkaka. If indeed a higher percentage of women is staying at home, perhaps it’s because feminists and the media have told women for years that female workers are paid less than men in the same jobs — so why bother working if they’re going to be penalized and humiliated for being a woman.)

    As full-time mothers or homemakers, stay-at-home wives earn zero. How can they afford to do this while in many cases living in luxury? Answer: Because they’re supported by their husband, an “employer” who pays them to stay at home. (Far more wives are supported by a spouse than are husbands.)

    The implication of this is probably obvious to most 12-year-olds but seems incomprehensible to or is ignored by feminists and the liberal media: If millions of wives are able to accept NO wages, millions of other wives, whose husbands’ incomes vary, are more often able than husbands to:

    -accept low wages

    -refuse overtime and promotions

    -choose jobs based on interest first, wages second — the reverse of what men tend to do

    -take more unpaid days off

    -avoid uncomfortable wage-bargaining (http://tinyurl.com/3a5nlay)

    -work part-time instead of full-time (“In 2011, 22% of male physicians and 44% of female physicians worked less than full time, up from 7% of men and 29% of women from Cejka’s 2005 survey.” These are some of the most sophisticated, educated women in the country CHOOSING to earn less than their male counterparts in the exact same profession. http://tinyurl.com/7la747z)

    Any one of these job choices lowers women’s median pay relative to men’s. And when a wife makes one of the choices, her husband often must take up the slack.

    Women are able to make these choices because they are supported — or, if unmarried, anticipate being supported — by a husband who must earn more than if he’d chosen never to marry. (Still, even many men who shun marriage, unlike their female counterparts, feel their self worth is tied to their net worth.) This is how MEN help create the wage gap: as a group they tend more than women to pass up jobs that interest them for ones that pay well.

    Much more in “Will the Ledbetter Act Help Women?” at http://malemattersusa.wordpress.com/2011/12/03/will-the-ledbetter-fair-pay-act-help-women/

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