Rep. Wasserman Schultz today commended the progress achieved in the first year of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. The law is an important part of this Congress' pledge to fight for middle-class families and rebuild our economy in a way that gives every American the chance to succeed. Today marks one year since President Obama signed the bill into law.
"We've seen this law help more than a thousand American workers stand for their right to fair pay in the past year," said Rep. Wasserman Schultz. "The Bush recession has been an unfair blow to most American families, but wage discrimination threatens Americans' prosperity no matter the overall economic climate."
The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act restores employees' rights to challenge pay discrimination. In the year since the law took effect, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reviewed over 1,100 cases where people were denied wage compensation, and some 4,800 charges alleging wage discrimination were filed with the Commission. Numerous court cases have cited the law in an effort to win compensation for back-earnings.
This law is named for a woman who worked for nearly two decades at a Goodyear Tire and Rubber facility in Alabama. She sued the company when she learned that she was the lowest-paid supervisor at the plant, despite having more experience than several of her male counterparts. A jury found that her employer had unlawfully discriminated against her on the basis of sex. However, the Supreme Court said that Ledbetter had waited too long to sue for pay discrimination.
The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act clarified that any compensation given under discriminatory pay policies constitutes a violation of the Civil Rights Act. It applies to workers who file claims of discrimination on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, religion, age, or disability. This act reversed a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that made it more difficult for Americans to pursue such claims. The legislation was among the first to be considered and passed by the 111th Congress, and the first major bill to be signed into law by President Obama.
"This law was an important step forward, but it's just the beginning," said Rep. Wasserman Schultz. "In the third quarter of 2009, women were still earning only 81 percent of what men earned. In the fourth quarter of last year, women made an average of $670 per week, to a man's $825. That's unacceptable."