The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Cynthia Bell (202) 675-2312;

ACLU Urges Congress to Pass Paycheck Fairness Act

Bill Ensures Women Would Receive Equal Pay for Equal Work


On the fourth anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the American Civil Liberties Union is urging members of Congress to support and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 84/H.R. 377) - the next step in the fight for pay equity. Its reintroduction by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) comes on the heels of President Obama's inaugural speech highlighting equal pay for women as a priority for his next term.

Signed four years ago today by President Obama, the Ledbetter Act restored the law to ensure that the time limit for bringing pay discrimination claims would renew with each discriminatory paycheck, thereby giving women a reasonable amount of time to file after learning of discrimination. The Paycheck Fairness Act, on the other hand, which updates and strengthens the Equal Pay Act of 1963, would give women the tools they need to challenge the wage gap itself.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women who work full time, on average, earn 77 cents for every dollar men earn. Women of color fare far worse, with African American women earning 64 cents and Latinas 55 cents for each dollar earned by a white man.

"Fifty years after the signing of the Equal Pay Act, unacceptable disparities in what men and women earn for the same work persists," said Deborah J. Vagins, Senior Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office and Co-Chair of the National Paycheck Fairness Coalition. "In addition, many workers can still be fired for asking about their wages at work. In fact, Lilly Ledbetter worked at a company where employees could not share wage information. The Paycheck Fairness Act would give workers the help they need to be treated fairly, including strengthening remedies for discrimination against women and protecting employees' jobs when they seek information about their wages. If you don't know about discrimination, you can't do anything about it. This ongoing injustice is particularly troubling when you consider that nearly 40 percent of women are primary breadwinners in their households."

If Congress does not move the Paycheck Fairness Act forward, the ACLU urges the President to sign an Executive Order that would protect people employed by federal contractors from retaliation for disclosing or asking about their wages.

For additional information, read our factsheet on the Paycheck Fairness Act, letter to Members of Congress in support of the Paycheck Fairness Act, and letter to President Obama on an Executive Order on retaliation against wage disclosure.

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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