Sunday, April 15, 2012

Equal Pay Day - We Do It In Heels

Women have supported families; entered formerly male-only institutions and workplaces; and demanded better working conditions and pay, facilitated by a growing societal appreciation for gender equality. The insidious undercurrent to this progress, unfortunately, is our nation's persistent wage gap. Women still make less than men.

NWLC and Lilly Ledbetter Team Up to Win Fair Pay Legislation
I worked as a supervisor at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company plant in Gadsden, Alabama, for close to two decades. I was paid less than my male co-workers the entire time—even though I was doing the same work they were and doing it well. Near the end of my time there, I received an anonymous note alerting me to the discrimination, and I decided to fight for justice.
In 1998, less than a month after receiving the note, I filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and then sued Goodyear in a federal district court under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. A jury found that Goodyear had discriminated against me and awarded me $3 million in damages. 
The company appealed my case and, in the Spring of 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an appellate court ruling that said I should have filed my complaint within 180 days of receiving my first discriminatory paycheck. 
My case set a new and disastrous precedent, but the National Women’s Law Center and its allies helped me fight back. Together we worked hard to pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which President Obama signed into law on January 29, 2009. The Supreme Court got it wrong, but now all employees have a better shot at pay equity.
My case is over, and I will never be compensated for the many years I was paid less than my male colleagues. But the struggle for pay equity is not over. I continue to fight alongside the National Women’s Law Center for legislation to improve the law so that our daughters and granddaughters will have a chance for a better future.

Achieving equal pay for women is a top priority– and it was the first bill signed into law by President Obama. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act reaffirmed a core American principle: equal pay for equal work, regardless of gender, race, or background.
The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act restored basic protections against pay discrimination for women and other workers, ensuring any woman facing unfair treatment would have their day in court.  With women making up nearly half of the labor force and mothers increasingly serving as the primary or co-breadwinners for American families, the wage gap hurts families, businesses, and communities.

Today, with women still earning an average of just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns, more must be done to level the playing field for all workers
This has strengthened America’s families – because equal pay is not simply a women’s issue; it’s a family issue, and we cant wait any longer.

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