On the Sixth Anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, America’s Women and Families Need Congress to Do More to Advance Fair Pay

Statement of Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families

“Six years ago today, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which restored a protection against workplace discrimination that is critical for women. Since then, the administration has issued a series of executive actions to promote fair pay, and numerous states and cities have taken action to combat pay discrimination and raise wages. But opponents in Congress have blocked the comprehensive, far-reaching federal progress the country urgently needs. It is past time for Congress to support women, their families and our economy by advancing fair pay.

Women and families across the country know all too well how much damage is being done by the stubborn gender-based wage gap. Women working full time, year round in the United States are paid, on average, just 78 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. This amounts to a loss of thousands of dollars each year that could go toward basic necessities like food, gas and rent. And the gap is considerably larger and more harmful for African American women and Latinas.

The Paycheck Fairness Act, which the House approved in the past, would close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act, help to break harmful patterns of pay discrimination and establish stronger workplace protections for women. It is common sense legislation that has the strong support of voters, and it would go a long way toward combating the discriminatory practices that contribute to the gender-based wage gap in this country.

Fair pay also depends on fair and living wages. Women account for more than half of workers who are paid the minimum wage. They also make up 72 percent of tipped workers who are paid the sub-minimum wage of just $2.13 per hour. Ensuring workers are paid enough to keep food on the table and their families out of poverty is essential to our nation’s well-being. Voters showed that they understand this by approving minimum wage increases in several states last year, and it’s time for Congress to follow suit.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was a much-needed fix six years ago, but much more needs to be done. Members of Congress need to put politics aside, take strong action to promote fair pay, and increase wages. The Paycheck Fairness Act, an increase in the minimum wage, elimination of the tipped minimum wage, and family friendly workplace policies must be priorities. Passing these common sense measures would benefit our families, our communities and our economy tremendously.”

About the National Partnership

The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, reproductive health and rights, access to quality, affordable health care and policies that help all people meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at NationalPartnership.org.

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