ACLU Calls Swift Passage of Pay Equity Bills Strong Steps to Help Protect Wages

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Linda Paris, (202) 675-2312; media@dcaclu.org

ACLU Calls Swift Passage of Pay Equity Bills Strong Steps to Help Protect Wages

Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act Package Combats Pay Discrimination

WASHINGTON -  

Ahead
of the numerous economic indicators set to be released this week –
including December payroll figures – all of which are expected to show
a worsening US economy, the ACLU sent a letter to Congress urging
speedy passage of a pay equity legislative package that gives employees
tools to fight unfair wage disparities. This week, the House of
Representatives is expected to vote on H.R. 11, the Lilly Ledbetter
Fair Pay Act, and H.R. 12, the Paycheck Fairness Act.
 
“Congress
needs to send a message that wage discrimination is not acceptable,”
said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative
Office. “This means passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the
Paycheck Fairness Act without delay. By passing this pay equity package
swiftly, Congress will take a strong step toward stimulating the
economy.”
 
Together, these bills will help to create a climate where wage discrimination is not tolerated
and give the new administration enforcement tools to make progress on
pay equity. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act restores rights to address
pay discrimination taken away by the Supreme Court in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. In
2007, the Supreme Court ruled that Ms. Ledbetter, a 19-year employee of
Goodyear, did not have a valid claim of wage discrimination because she
had not filed her complaint within 180 days of her employer’s initial
discriminatory pay decision – even though her employer kept the
information secret for years. The act clarifies that ongoing wage discrimination represents a continuing violation by the employer. 
 
Another
important tool to protect wages has been the Equal Pay Act. However,
since becoming law over four decades ago, loopholes and weak remedies
have made the Equal Pay Act less effective. The Paycheck Fairness Act
would amend the Equal Pay Act to address the reality that full-time
working women receive only 78 cents for every dollar men earn,
according to the US Census. More specifically, this legislation allows
women to receive the same pay for equal work and the same remedies for
wage discrimination as are available for race and national origin
discrimination.
 
“In
these tough economic times, unjust employers should not be immunized
from wrongdoing when they deny employees their rightful wages or profit
from years of discrimination – as long as they keep the discrimination
secret for a few months,” said Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU legislative
counsel. “Pay equity has to be a priority for Congress. Part of
promoting economic security is ensuring that employees bring home every
dollar that they rightfully earn.”
 
To read the ACLU’s letter to Congress, go to: http:/www.aclu.org/womensrights/employ/38239leg20090106.html
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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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