ACLU Calls For Passage of Equal Pay Legislation on Anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

January 29, 2010 12:00 am

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Paycheck Fairness Act Is Next Step For Equality In The Workplace

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WASHINGTON – On today’s one-year anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a landmark law in the fight for paycheck equality, the American Civil Liberties Union calls on leaders in the Senate to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 182), the next step in ensuring equality in the workplace.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was a critical piece of legislation that corrected the impact of a 2007 Supreme Court decision that sharply limited workers’ opportunities to challenge wage discrimination and undermined civil rights law that had been in place for decades. While this was a huge step forward, the battle for equal pay for equal work continues. While the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act gives employees back their day in court to fight for equal pay, it is the Paycheck Fairness Act that provides the legal tools they need to close the wage gap. The Paycheck Fairness Act would update the Equal Pay Act of 1963 by taking several important steps toward remedying pay discrimination, including:

  • requiring employers to demonstrate that wage differentials are based on factors other than sex;
  • prohibiting retaliation against workers who inquire about their employers’ wage practices or disclose their own wages;
  • permitting reasonable comparisons between employees within clearly defined geographical areas to determine fair wages;
  • strengthening penalties for equal pay violations and
  • authorizing additional training for EEOC staff to better identify and handle wage disputes.

“The Paycheck Fairness Act is essential to making sure all women get the pay that they deserve,” said Lilly Ledbetter. “Had it been law when I was working, I would have had the right to ask my employer where my wages stood in relation to my co-workers without retaliation. The Paycheck Fairness Act will be the hammer behind the nail put into place by the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. It is critical for women working today and into the future to get the Paycheck Fairness Act passed.”

Having already passed in the House of Representatives with bipartisan support in early 2009, the Paycheck Fairness Act is now making its way through the Senate, shepherded by 35 co-sponsors. Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) indicated that the Senate plans on a hearing on the bill in the next six weeks and that leadership will bring the bill to the Senate floor later this year. The ACLU calls on the Senate to take swift action on the Paycheck Fairness Act and allow women to bring home the pay they have rightfully earned.

“One year after the enactment of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and nearly five decades after the Equal Pay Act, American women are still waiting to see pay equity become a reality,” said Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Legislative Counsel. “With growing support in the Senate, the time for the Paycheck Fairness Act has finally come. We urge the Senate to move this bill forward – women in the workplace have waited long enough for fair pay.”

“The Paycheck Fairness Act is an important and reasonable approach to finally closing the wage gap,” said Michael Macleod-Ball, Acting Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “In this economic climate, it’s never been more important to ensure women get the pay they deserve. We need concrete and immediate action to improve the economic security of working families; the Paycheck Fairness Act is the next step on the path to pay equity.”

The ACLU’s letter to the Senate in support of the Paycheck Fairness Act is available at:

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