“Five years ago today, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. It was the first bill he signed into law, and it was a critical and necessary step toward combating pay discrimination in this country. In his State of the Union address last night, the president issued a rousing, resonant call for continued progress in advancing fair pay for women in addition to the paid leave and family friendly workplace policies Americans need. He is right. It is time to do more.
It is unacceptable that women who are employed full time, year round in the United States today are still paid only 77 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to more than $11,500 in lost income each year. And for women of color, that gap is considerably larger. The income women and their families lose due to the gender-based wage gap has a detrimental effect on their short- and long-term financial security, as well as the businesses, communities and economies that depend on their spending power.
The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was a significant advance in the fight against unfair pay. It restored the right of pay discrimination victims – like Lilly Ledbetter – to have their day in court by making it clear that the time limit for filing a discrimination claim resets with each discriminatory paycheck. But, five years later, it is not enough. It is past time for Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act, help to break harmful patterns of pay discrimination and establish stronger workplace protections for women.
In the meantime, President Obama should issue an executive order that enables employees of companies that contract with the federal government to discuss their pay with their co-workers and identify discrimination without retaliation. Doing so would set an example for Congress and help ensure that taxpayer dollars are not used to perpetuate pay discrimination. We urge the president to take this important action right away.
The National Partnership is proud to be joining Lilly Ledbetter and our allies at the American Association of University Women, the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Women’s Law Center today to visit members of Congress and urge them to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. And tonight, we are excited to be co-hosting a national discussion* on the need for progress on fair pay and family friendly policies. Lawmakers at all levels are taking meaningful action to advance these common sense measures. Congress and the president should do the same.”
* Tonight at 8:30 p.m. EST, the National Partnership is co-hosting a national tele-town hall with more than 60 organizations to discuss the fair pay, paid leave and child care policies needed to advance women and families in 2014. The event will feature Lilly Ledbetter, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D – Calif.), U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro (D – Conn.), U.S. Representative Donna Edwards (D – Md.), actor Cynthia Nixon, and the stories of women from across the country. It can be listened to online at http://tinyurl.com/womentownhall.
The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at www.NationalPartnership.org.