President Obama has signed the equal-pay bill into law that will benefit working women all over the country. Women leaders who fought hard for the bill’s package and Lilly Ledbetter, the woman from Alabama, whose history-making lawsuit gave impetus to the cause were present for the signing. The President, choosing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act as the first bill to sign as president, called it a “wonderful day.” His goal had been to end pay disparities between men and women an issue not just for women, but for all workers and he got the job done.
With Ms. Ledbetter standing by his side, the President signed the bill into law. Ms. Ledbetter lost more than $200,000 in salary, and even more in pension and Social Security, she won’t be able to recoup any of that. But this brave lady never gave up her fight and it has now paid off for all women. This act effectively nullifies a 2007 Supreme Court decision and makes it easier for workers to sue for discrimination by allowing them more time to do so. President Obama had this to say:
Making our economy work means making sure it works for everyone. That there are no second-class citizens in our workplaces, and that it’s not just unfair and illegal — but bad for business — to pay someone less because of their gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion or disability.
Ms. Ledbetter said she didn’t become aware of the large discrepancy in her pay until she neared the end of her 19-year career at a Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. plant in Gadsden, Alabama. She then filed a lawsuit. But the High Court, in a shocking decision, held in a 5-4 decision that she was late in filing suit and ruled for Goodyear.
In the Ledbetter case, the High Court said that a person must file a claim of discrimination within 180 days of a company’s initial decision to pay a worker less than it pays another worker doing the same job. That made it virtually impossible for a woman to file suit and that was clearly wrong. Under the new Act, every new discriminatory paycheck would extend the statute of limitations for another 180 days.
President Obama cited Census Bureau figures showing that women still receive only about 78 cents for every dollar that men get for doing equivalent jobs with “women of color” getting even less. The new law, which amends the 1964 Civil Rights Act, also applies to discrimination based on factors such as race, religion, national origin, disability or age. Without question, passage of this Act was the right thing to do and Lilly Ledbetter is a real American hero. In my opinion, the legislation she backed and which bears her name, deserved the vote of every member of Congress.
Source: Associated Press
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