January 14, 2009 Dear Senator: On behalf of working women and their families, we strongly urge you to support immediate passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, S. 181, without amendment. The Act was passed swiftly by a strong majority of the House last week, and immediate Senate action is essential if women are to have critical tools necessary to effectively challenge pay discrimination. Taking strong steps toward pay equity is also a critical component of any effort to stimulate the economy and ensure self-sufficiency for women and their families. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women who work full time earn, on average, only 78 cents for every dollar paid to men.i The statistics are even worse for women of color. Further, the continuing wage gap not only undermines the economic security of women and their families today; it also directly affects women’s retirement security down the road. Women are particularly vulnerable during this economic downturn and have never needed equal pay more. Women are far more likely to live in poverty than men; women who head families, Black and Hispanic women, and women over age 65 living alone are especially likely to be poor.ii Passing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is an essential downpayment on addressing these dismal realities. As you are aware, the bill would reverse the Supreme Court’s decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and restore the long-standing interpretation of civil rights laws that employees can challenge every discriminatory paycheck they receive. It is the only bill that will address the serious problems created by the Ledbetter decision, and has been carefully crafted to restore the law that was previously applied by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and nine of the ten federal circuit courts to consider the issue. Ensuring that women have the ability to redress pay discrimination in court is particularly important given that studies have shown discrimination remains a major hurdle to women closing the pay gap. The Paycheck Fairness Act, S. 182, also passed by the House, builds on the restorative approach of the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. It improves incentives for employers to comply with the law, strengthens federal outreach, education and enforcement efforts, and signals the need to move forward beyond Ledbetter to truly root out pay discrimination. With the law on your side, great things are possible. 11 Dupont Circle ■ Suite 800 ■ Washington, DC 20036 ■ 202.588.5180 ■ 202.588.5185 Fax ■ www.nwlc.org As the 111th Congress begins, American women are looking for concrete action to improve the economic security of working families. We urge you to support immediate passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act without amendment and thereafter to quickly take up and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. Sincerely, Jocelyn Samuels Marcia D. Greenberger Vice President for Education Co-President & Employment i U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (August 2008). Annual Demographic Survey. Retrieved August 27, 2008, from http://pubdb3.census.gov/macro/032008/perinc/new05_000.htm. ii See http://www.nwlc.org/pdf/WomenPoverty2000-2007.pdf.
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