Media Release Contact: Susan Berryman Rodriguez
Contact: (404) 222.0030 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Immediate Release: January 29, 2013
MILWAUKEE, Jan. 29, 2013 – Lilly Ledbetter may not be a household name – but to many of us, she is a hero in the fight for equal pay. As a production supervisor at an Alabama Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. plant she discovered that she was earning as much as 40 percent less than the lowest paid male supervisor.
As a result, Ledbetter filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Her case went all the way to the Supreme Court, but she lost in 2007. The Supreme Court said she didn’t file her charge in time, even though she filed it immediately upon learning about the pay inequity.
Two years later on January 29, President Obama signed his first bill – the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act – into law. The Ledbetter Act of 2009 was critical to the fight for equal pay. But there’s still much work to do because working women are earning, on average, more than $10,000 less annually than men.
On the eve of the Ledbetter Act’s fourth anniversary, the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 84/H.R. 377) was reintroduced in Congress. The PFA would close loopholes in our existing equal pay laws, prohibit retaliation against workers who ask about or share wage information, and empower women to better negotiate salary and benefit increases.
The most recent Census Bureau statistics show that the long-standing gap between women’s and men’s earnings has changed little. Overall, women workers in full-time, year-round jobs still earn only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men in those jobs. There is an even greater gap for African-American women and Latinas.
“The PFA would play a critical role in our nation’s economic recovery,” said Linda Meric, national executive director of 9to5. “Every cent counts in these tough economic times, when more women are primary family breadwinners or co-breadwinners than ever before. Wage discrimination must end.”
Because Ledbetter was prohibited from discussing salaries with co-workers, she worked for nearly 20 years before she discovered she was being discriminated against because of her gender. That’s why the PFA is so important to closing the gap. If your employer prohibits you from having conversations about your salary, it’s really difficult to find out if you’re being paid less than your male co-workers and then take action to correct it.
“Closing the pay gap will take real change. Closing it will include legislation like the PFA,” continued Meric.
The wage gap has long-term effects on the economic security of women and families. Women lose hundreds of thousands of dollars, up to over a million, over their careers. That means less money to make ends meet and achieve economic security for families. A lifetime of lower wages also means that women save less for retirement and qualify for lower social security payments. In fact, women have only 36 percent of the wealth than do men their same age.
To learn more about the PFA and how you can support it, click here.
About 9to5: In 1973, a group of female office workers in Boston, fed up with being powerless and undervalued in the workplace, mobilized to change the way they were treated and paid. The group organized around their grievances; terms that didn’t yet exist– sexual harassment, pay equity and family leave. Forty years later, 9to5 has emerged as one of the largest, most respected national membership organizations of working women in the U.S. For more information, go to 9to5.org.
9to5 has made huge, bold strides since Jane Fonda’s movie “9to5,” inspired by the group, premiered. Over the past 40 years, 9to5 has celebrated hard-won victories like the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the 1991 improvements in the Civil Rights Act, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and greater investments in child care and health care for working families.