Equal Pay Day Brings No Relief

For Immediate Release

Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and George Miller (D-CA) spoke at a Capitol Hill press conference on April 23, held in conjunction with Equal Pay Day, to support the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act by the Senate.  Other speakers –and organizers of the event – included Marsha Zakowski, President, Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW); Rosalyn Pelles, Director, Department of Civil, Human and Women’s Rights, AFL-CIO; Michele Leber, Chair, National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE); Margot Dorfman, CEO, U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce; and Lilly Ledbetter, whose complaint of wage discrimination was denied by the Supreme Court decision in May 2007. 
Later on April 23, a minority of primarily Republican senators once again made it harder for women workers to overcome pay discrimination.  The Senate fell four votes short of the 60 required to begin consideration of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.  Ledbetter, one of the few female supervisors at the Goodyear plant in Gadsden, Alabama, was earning 20% less than the lowest paid man in the same position when she filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  Lower court rulings supported her claim and awarded her damages, but the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, held that her claim was not filed within 180 days of Goodyear’s initial discriminatory pay decision and therefore was not valid.  In July, the House of Representatives passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to reverse the effect of the Supreme Court decision and establish each discriminatory paycheck as a violation of law.  The struggle for fair pay continues.
Equal Pay Day symbolizes how far into the current year a woman must work, on average, to earn as much as a man earned in the previous year, based on U.S. Census Bureau statistics of median wages of fulltime, year-round workers.

Pamela Wilson, Assistant to DPE President Almeida, attended the press conference.  For more information about the wage gap, see DPE’s fact sheet, Professional Women: Vital Statistics, and visit the National Committee on Pay Equity’s website.

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