The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Claire O'Brien, (202) 675-2312;

New White House Report Highlights Need for Paycheck Fairness Act

ACLU Joins Administration in Supporting Crucial Bill


The White House National Economic Council today released a report, "Jobs and Economic Security for America's Women," detailing the changing role women play in the American economy and the challenges they face. According to the report, women have made significant strides in achieving equality in the workplace. But despite those impressive accomplishments, the wage gap between male and female workers persists, with women earning, on average, just 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. The report also states that because women are a growing presence in the workforce, they have been hit harder by the current recession than by those in decades past, and their earnings are more critical to economic recovery.

The report's findings underscore the need for the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill highlighted in the report as critical legislation needed to ensure pay equity for women. The American Civil Liberties Union shares the president's support for the Paycheck Fairness Act and urges the Senate to pass the bill in the coming weeks.

"The administration deserves credit for all they have done to enhance women's equality, including the president's signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and establishing the National Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force, but equality can't truly be achieved until the Paycheck Fairness Act becomes law," said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "As the White House report shows, women play an increasingly vital role in the economic survival of American families, and in the current economy, it has never been more crucial for women to bring home equal pay. It's absolutely critical to the country's economic recovery, as well as to American principles of equality and fairness, that every worker brings home every penny he or she earns."

Today's report states that women account for a growing portion of the American workforce. More than half of all manager positions are held by women and the number of women-owned businesses is on the rise. The report also states that women, on average, have higher educational attainment than men and women's salaries have become more critical to family economic survival, with women serving as either the primary or co-breadwinner in nearly two-thirds of families.

To complement these achievements, what is now needed is the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would update the Equal Pay Act of 1963, a law that has not been able to achieve its promise of closing the wage gap because of limited enforcement tools and inadequate remedies. The Paycheck Fairness Act would provide workers with the tools they need to fight for equal pay, including requiring employers to demonstrate that wage differences between men and women doing the same work have a business justification; prohibiting retaliation against workers who inquire about their wages; leveling the playing field by ensuring that women can obtain the same remedies as those subject to discrimination based on race or national origin; and reinstating the collection of important wage-related data.

In 2009, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the Paycheck Fairness Act. The bill currently has 40 co-sponsors in the Senate and is poised for passage.

"The administration's report highlights that while women have made impressive strides in the workplace, there are still significant barriers to equality that must be addressed. Currently, we are on the verge of securing monumental rights for women, but only if the Senate moves swiftly to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act in the coming weeks," said Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Legislative Counsel. "We applaud the president and the administration for their continuing support of this important bill."

The administration's efforts to support this bill join the chorus of workers, lawmakers, and faith, business and advocacy groups also voicing support for passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act before the 111th Congress adjourns.

"With more support behind this bill than ever before, we have never been closer to making this bill law. The time for pay equity is now," added Vagins.

The report, "Jobs and Economic Security for America's Women," is available at:

A letter from the ACLU to the Senate in support of the Paycheck Fairness Act is available at:

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

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