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Fulfilling the Promise of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

Deborah J. Vagins,
ACLU Washington Legislative Office
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February 3, 2014

The following op-ed was originally published by Roll Call.

A little more than five years ago, after years of fighting for the rights of those demanding pay equality, we stood together at the White House watching President Barack Obama take a historic step in protecting American workers when he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. This law restored the rights of employees to have their day in court for ongoing wage discrimination taken away by the Supreme Court in the Ledbetter v. Goodyear case.

Yet with women on average earning 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts — and the gap even larger for women of color — it was tough to celebrate this anniversary last month, as it reminds us our work is far from finished.

While the Ledbetter Act gave back women their day in court, the legislation did not give women new tools to combat the wage gap itself. We need Congress and the administration to act now to do just that. In Congress, the next step in attaining equal pay for equal work is the Paycheck Fairness Act — a bill that would amend the Equal Pay Act to give workers stronger enforcement tools and remedies to help close, for once and for all, the pay gap between men and women. The bill would, among other things, make sure that employers could not pay men and women differently without a business justification and prohibit retaliation against workers who inquire about their employers’ wage practices or disclose their own wages, all while providing important small-business exceptions and assistance.

To read the rest of the op-ed, visit Roll Call.

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