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Still A Long Way To Go, Baby: Ledbetter One Year Later

Still A Long Way To Go, Baby: Ledbetter One Year Later

On January 29, 2009 women took a significant step forward in efforts to end pay discrimination.  With the enactment of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act women subjected to unlawful pay discrimination are once again able to effectively assert their rights under federal anti-discriminatnion laws.   This anniversary is a moment to celebrate and the result of a significant battle to undue the damage and malice of Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co..  It’s a significant anniversary and one that was rightly recognized by Congress.

It’s also important to remember that Ledbetter was a remedy, a piece of legislation needed to fix the damage done by the Supreme Court.  So that means, as a measure of progress, we need to remember that we’ve actually gone nowhere.  Sure, it hasn’t gotten any worse, but that is hardly an event worth celebrating. 

What that means is that women continue to face wage discrimination, and they face it daily.  In the midst of the worst economic recession since The Great Depression and when women outnumber men in the workplace, wage discrimination does more harm to more people than ever before.  That’s why, more than ever, Congress needs to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.

The Paycheck Fairness Act, like Ledbetter, is also remedial.  It closes loopholes in the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and bars retaliation against workers who disclose their wages.  The bill also allows women to receive the same remedies for sex-based pay discrimination currently available for race or national origin discrimination.  Perhaps most importantly it hits businesses where it matters by removing limits on punitive and compensatory damages, because, unfortunately, discriminatory conduct won’t end until it becomes too expensive for businesses to tolerate.

So what better way to mark the anniversary of the Lilly Lebdetter Act than plugging the rest of the holes that permit pay discrimination to persist?  If we want to stimulate the economy and bring more money to working families, let’s start by paying women fairly.

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photo courtesy of yomanimus via Flickr

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29 comments

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3:30PM PST on Feb 1, 2010

good story

3:44PM PST on Jan 31, 2010

I don't think that all types of business have this problem. In the scientific jobs in my area of the country, it is strictly experience based not gender.

3:19PM PST on Jan 31, 2010

I saw Lilly Ledbetter speak at my college, and she was really an inspiring woman. She reiterated how important the Paycheck Fairness Act was in closing remaining loopholes that allow unfair pay practices to go unpunished.

2:38PM PST on Jan 31, 2010

Great it passed...now how is going to be policed. Our companies mandated to review of their payroll and polices? I think not so its all a big fat waste of time and it will be business as usual. Because of downsizing I now run two offices at my employment yet the owner refuses to give me money or at least the title of office manager. This is why I distain private industry....no policing, no one I can turn to, and jobs are almost non-existent so I have to take it.

7:19AM PST on Jan 31, 2010

A male worker recently started his job where I work, doing the same thing that I am doing. Even though he did related work before starting at our agency, I'll bet he is being paid more than I am because they are male. When I was hired, I hit the ground running because I already had considerable experience in exactly what I am doing.

I think women are paid less for the increasingly poor excuse that we are not heads of households. It is because men rule the world, and this is their way of telling us that since we have a hole and not a stick, we are not as powerful nor as valuable as human beings as they are, even as women are graduating from college with higher grades, and outperforming men in practically every area except brute strength. Brute strength hasn't meant anything for a long time. It is for the same reason other vulnerable groups get the shaft, because their political voice gets discounted every time because of relative lack of MONEY and POWER.

2:14AM PST on Jan 31, 2010

This definitely need world attention and acceptance!! Do something people of the world for the women who mean so much and without who the place won't be the same!!! You know it, we all know it!! So,let's hurry and get this done for the world-over women!!!

12:47AM PST on Jan 31, 2010

We still have a long way to go.

5:13PM PST on Jan 30, 2010

It only makes sense to stop this unequal pay problem , considering forcing women into marriage to support themselves does not work . The climbing divorce and child custody rates are a prime example of the flaws of tradition based sexism.

4:59PM PST on Jan 30, 2010

Everyone needs to receive the same pay for the same job, regardsless of gender! It´s just so unfair and frustraing that women are still paid less!!

4:46PM PST on Jan 30, 2010

Has everyone forgotten that corporations will pay the least possible to any and everyone except their executives. The ONLY solution to unfair and low pay and no benefits is to form a UNION and demand your rights. Unless you are are ready to strike and fight for yourself you will never have anything. DONT expect government to do it for you.

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