Yesterday, in his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama stated that “…Women deserve equal pay for equal work… Deserves to have a baby without sacrificing — job. A mother deserves — day off. …” The President Obama says it’s time to do away with “Mad Men” era policies. Equal pay for equal work is a simple matter of fairness.
Almost five years ago, President Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, with Lilly Ledbetter, who suffered twenty (20) years of pay discrimination. Data indicates that working women in the United States are paid an average of eighty (80) cents for every dollar paid to men. Because women earn less, on average, than men, they must work longer for the same amount of pay. The pay gap is even larger for most women of color; on average, black women earn about seventy (70) cents, and Latinas about sixty (60) cents, of every dollar paid to all men. Our daughters and granddaughters should know that they’ll enter the workforce as equals to their male counterparts. But it’s going to take a real effort to get this done.
The Equal Pay Act, the law that was supposed to make equal pay for equal work a reality, is in bad shape. That’s why right now, the people from all around the country are picking up their telephones to take action– and you can join them. Call the White House comment line and urge the President to get the ball rolling on closing the wage gap by prohibiting federal contractors from punishing or firing workers who talk about their salaries with co-workers. This action from the President would address one piece of the Paycheck Fairness Act and protect nearly a quarter of the federal civilian workforce despite congressional gridlock.
President Kennedy called the Equal Pay Act “a first step” to ending the widespread practice of paying women less than men for the same amount of work. And that’s exactly what it was: a first step. 50 years later, we’re still fighting this fight, and women STILL make 23 cents less on the dollar. House Democrats have proposed a solution — the Paycheck Fairness Act — but Republicans voted to block this legislation from even coming to a vote. That is unacceptable.
In 1996, Equal Pay Day was established by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) as a public awareness event to illustrate the gap between men’s and women’s wages. For the past thirty-two (32) years, the National Committee on Pay Equity has been working diligently to eliminate sex- and race-based wage discrimination and to achieve pay equity.
In 1979, the National Committee on Pay Equity was founded as a coalition of women’s and civil rights organizations; labor unions; religious, professional, legal, and educational associations, commissions on women, state and local pay equity coalitions and individuals working to eliminate sex- and race-based wage discrimination and to achieve pay equity.
When the Equal Pay Act passed nearly 50 years ago, a woman earned an average of 59 cents for every dollar a man made. Today, she makes 77 cents. The annual gap between men and women’s median annual wages is a staggering $10,849. With more and more families relying on women’s wages to support them in an ailing economy, shortchanging women nearly $11,000 a year is inexcusable.
The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is an important step in the continuing struggle for women’s rights. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act would take several steps towards closing the wage gap, including: clarifying acceptable reasons for differences in pay between men and women; prohibiting retaliation against workers who inquire about or disclose information about employers’ wage policies and their pay rates; making it easier to file class action lawsuits based on equal pay; and requiring the EEOC to survey current pay data and obliging employers to submit pay data identified by race, sex and national origin of employees.
Help 9 to 5 and other advocacy organizations to make this very necessary change: Contact your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative and urge them to support and sign on to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Women have waited too long for equal wages. We, as a nation, cannot afford to wait any longer. —9 to 5
Fair Pay Act of 2013 – Amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to prohibit discrimination in the payment of wages on account of sex, race, or national origin. (Allows payment of different wages under seniority systems, merit systems, systems that measure earnings by quantity or quality of production, or differentials based on bona fide factors that the employer demonstrates are job-related or further legitimate business interests.)
Prohibits the discharge of, or any other discrimination against, an individual for opposing any act or practice made unlawful by this Act, or for assisting in an investigation or proceeding under it.
Directs courts, in any action brought under this Act for violation of such prohibition, to allow expert fees as part of the costs awarded to prevailing plaintiffs. Allows any such action to be maintained as a class action. Directs the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to:
(1) undertake studies and provide information and technical assistance to employers, labor organizations, and the general public concerning effective means available to implement this Act; and (2) carry on a continuing program of research, education, and technical assistance with specified components related to the purposes of this Act. Makes conforming amendments relating to congressional and executive branch employees to the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 and the Presidential and Executive Office Accountability Act.
Source(s): ABC NEWS. http://www.govtrack.us. Wikipedia. 9 to 5. The National Committee on Pay Equity. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Action Alert DCCC.org.
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