Senator Mazie K. Hirono joined her U.S. Senate colleagues in celebrating the 4th anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act by submitting remarks for the Congressional Record today. Hirono took the opportunity to call for passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, a measure that would force employers who pay women employees less than their male counterparts to justify the pay disparity and show the disparity is not based on gender. On average, a woman in Hawaii earns just 82 cents for every dollar that a man in the same occupation makes.
Hirono's remarks read below:
"Mr. President --
"Four years ago, President Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.
"I was proud to support that legislation. It was needed because of the Supreme Court's decision in the landmark case, Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. That decision was deeply flawed. It had the effect of denying justice to a woman who had suffered pay discrimination for more than a decade. The court said, in effect, that because Lilly Ledbetter didn't learn of the pay discrimination until it was too late, our justice system could not help her.
"Put another way, if the ruling had been allowed to stand, employers could have continued to discriminate against women so long as the employers made sure the women didn't find out about it.
"That's not right. That's not how this country should treat women. Unfortunately, the Lilly Ledbetter Act could not retroactively help Ms. Ledbetter. But it was a big step in making sure the injustice she endured does not happen to other women or to anybody else.
"But our work is not done. There is little doubt in my mind that women still suffer pay discrimination.
"Nationally, women are paid only 77 cents for every dollar a man is paid. In Hawaii, women are paid only 82 cents for every dollar a man is paid. That is a little better than the rest of the country, but it is in no way good enough. At the median salary, that 82 cents translates into about $8,000 less per year in wages for a woman in Hawaii. That's a lot of money in my state.
"We need to do more, and that is why I'm proud to be a cosponsor of Senator Mikulski's Paycheck Fairness Act. This bill would force employers who pay women employees less than their male counterparts to justify the pay disparity and must show the disparity is not based on gender. Frankly, it is sad that this legislation is necessary today, but it is. Women got the vote over 90 years ago. It is long past time we get equal pay for equal work."