Recognizing the Importance of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Actby Representative Danny K. Davis
Posted on 2013-02-28
in the house of representatives
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Mr. DANNY K. DAVIS of Illinois. Mr. Speaker, as we mark the 4th
anniversary of The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, I would like to take a
moment to recognize the importance of equal pay for equal work. Equal
opportunity for women--of which equal pay is a fundamental facet--is an
essential premise for our nation to be a Democracy.
In 2009, the Democratic Congress took strides to further close the gender discrimination gap in the professional work environment by passing The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which was the first bill President Obama signed law. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is of enormous importance for women's rights in the workplace. For decades, companies large and small have paid women less for the same work compared to their male counterparts. This law reaffirmed that each occurrence of pay and compensation discrimination against women violates title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The law addressed a Supreme Court ruling in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company that undermined statutory protections against discrimination by unduly restricting the time period in which victims of discrimination could challenge and recover for discriminatory compensation decisions or other practices, contrary to the intent of Congress. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act restored women's right to challenge employers once they discovered they were wrongfully discriminated against in terms of pay and benefits. Further, the law clarified that employees are entitled to up to two years of backpay for such discrimination, as provided under title VII.
Since enactment, courts around the country have applied the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act as Congress intended, for straightforward pay discrimination cases based on sex, race, disability, and age. In clarifying the period during which a worker may file a discrimination claim by each unfair paycheck, the law has provided a proper time frame extension to file lawsuits against employers for wage discrepancies. The anniversary of the signing of this bill reflects the commitment of our nation to ensure equal pay for all Americans and serves as a reminder that we must monitor and protect civil rights laws.
[[Page E217]] Unfortunately, equal opportunity is not yet a reality for women. This is why I join my Democratic colleagues in supporting the The Paycheck Fairness Act, which strengthens the equality provisions within the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and eliminates the loopholes not seen in the past. For example, it increases penalties on employers who violate federal law and allows women to pursue legal matters if they are treated unjustly. The legislation also ensures equality in the tax code so that everyone--male and female, high-income earners and those living in poverty--pays their respective tax rate. Fairness should be applicable to all, in wages and in taxes. The Paycheck Fairness Act provides effective remedies to women who are not being paid equal wages for equal work, and Congress should pass the bill as soon as possible.