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Public Statements

Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007 (H.R. 2831), which is an important step in ensuring the fair and equal pay deserved by women in our workforce.

Women have made tremendous strides forward in America's workforce. Earlier this year I was proud to see the election of the first female Speaker of the House. Today, women serve as executives at some of America's largest corporations and in distinguishing professions such as medicine and law. However, 43 years after the Civil Rights Act was enacted by Congress, women such as Lilly Ledbetter continue to struggle to receive payment equal to their male counterparts. These women, who perform the same jobs with the same responsibilities, on average earn only 77 cents for every dollar that their male counterparts earn. They have had to overcome one obstacle after another on their way to earning equal pay and equal respect for their work.

On May 29th, 2007, the United States Supreme Court threw yet another obstacle into the path of women in the workforce with the decision of Ledbetter v. Goodyear. According to this decision, if an employee fails to file a claim within 180 days of their employer's decision to pay them less, rather than when she receives a discriminatory paycheck, she will be barred forever from challenging the discriminatory paychecks that follow and forced to live with the discriminatory pay for the rest of her career. If this is allowed to stand, it will be a severe setback to women everywhere.

I am proud to be a cosponsor of H.R. 2831, which would restore protections guaranteed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act for victims of pay discrimination who are entitled to justice and fair pay. Contrary to what opponents of this legislation have said, this bill does not eliminate the statute of limitations on claims. What it does is ensure that the clock on the statute of limitations begins once a discriminatory paycheck is received rather than from the point a decision was made to discriminate against an employee. Every discriminatory paycheck will be a new violation of this law and restart the clock for filing a claim. Until the Ledbetter decision, this was the accepted understanding of Title VII and this bill will restore the law prior to Ledbetter.

Mr. Speaker, we must continue the fight for pay parity begun by Congress over 40 years ago. I would like to thank Chairman GEORGE MILLER for his leadership on this important issue in the House Education and Labor Committee. This piece of legislation, as well as the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 1338) introduced by my good friend Representative ROSA DELAURO of which I am also a cosponsor, are needed to ensure women continue to receive equal treatment. I urge all my colleagues to stand up for women workers and vote in favor of this bill.

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