AAUW Applauds President Obama for Signing Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into Law:Hot and Latest News
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AAUW Applauds President Obama for Signing Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into Law

WASHINGTON – AAUW applauds President Barack Obama for signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which restores the long-standing interpretation of civil rights laws and EEOC policies that allow employees to challenge any discriminatory paycheck they receive.

"President Obama has put pay discrimination at the top of the agenda, right where it belongs. The wage gap doesn't just hurt working women, it hurts families as well," said AAUW Executive Director Linda D. Hallman, CAE, who attended the signing ceremony. "We are especially pleased that this measure is the first bill moved by Congress and signed by our new president, sending a strong message that economic issues and pay equity are a top priority."

Statistics on women in the workplace speak to the need for action. The average woman earns just 78 cents of every dollar earned by her male counterparts, and disparities appear just one year out of college — even for those with the same job and the same major. Women of color make even less.

"AAUW is hopeful that the swift action on this important law is a harbinger of what we can expect from both the new Congress and the new administration," said Lisa Maatz, AAUW director of public policy and government relations. "Thanks to the remarkable Lilly Ledbetter, who stood up to injustice despite great personal sacrifice, women and others in her shoes will be able to seek a fair day in court."

Lilly Ledbetter is perhaps the best-known face of pay equity. She worked for nearly two decades at the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company in Gadsden, AL. Despite receiving top performance awards, Ledbetter discovered that she had been paid significantly less than male co-workers with the same job. After her November 1998 retirement, she filed suit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and was awarded back pay and other remedies in a jury trial. The U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 decision not only erased Ledbetter's award, but also left women, minorities, and others in Ledbetter's situation with virtually no recourse to pay discrimination.

"The wage gap not only affects a woman's paycheck, it can eventually reduce retirement and social security income. That could mean the loss of $1 million or more over one woman's lifespan," Hallman said.

"This victory has energized us," said Maatz. "President Obama and Congress have made a good down payment on their promise to close the wage gap, but we're not resting on our laurels. The House also passed the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill which would close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act, and AAUW and our allies are determined to see the Senate do the same."

Read more about AAUW's "Keep the Change" pay equity campaign at www.aauw.org/advocacy/issue_advocacy/actionpages/payequity.cfm.

To read Lilly Ledbetter's letter in support of both bills, go to www.aauw.org/advocacy/issue_advocacy/actionpages/upload/LillyLedbetterletter.pdf.

Go to www.aauw.org/advocacy/issue_advocacy/transition.cfm to see AAUW's recommendations to the new administration and the new Congress on workplace opportunity, pay equity, education, work/life balance, and other key issues.


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