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Staten Island Advance - McMahon Goes to Bat for Working Women

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Location: Staten Island, NY

Joining at Wagner College with Sen. Savino and Ms. Hyer-Spencer, he pledges support for fair pay


Calling the gender wage gap "outrageous," Democratic congressional candidate Michael McMahon pledged yesterday to support fair-pay legislation that would permit workers to file anti-discrimination claims with each new pay check.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act -- defeated in Congress earlier this year -- was the result of a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court 5-4 ruling that made it harder for workers to sue their employers for discrimination that results in lower wages.

It is viewed as a fair-pay issue for women, who earn 77.8 cents on the dollar for every dollar a man earns.

"It is outrageous that in the year 2008 women continue to receive less than a man does for the same job," said McMahon, the North Shore's city councilman.

He was joined by state Sen. Diane Savino (D-North Shore/Brooklyn), Assemblywoman Janele Hyer-Spencer (D-Mid-Island/Brooklyn) and other supporters at a press conference on the campus of Wagner College.

McMahon said that while his wife -- Acting Supreme Court Justice Judith McMahon -- receives the same pay as her male colleagues, because the salaries are stipulated by law, "I worry about my (high school-age) daughter . . . that she should be compensated fairly."

Among those on hand was Wagner sophomore Emily Burkhardt of Colorado, who said she was there in "feminist" solidarity with her mother, who works in the health care industry and receives less than her male counterparts for doing the same job.

Ledbetter, a Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. worker, had been underpaid from the beginning of her employment in 1979 but did not discover it until nearly 20 years later. In 1998, she filed charges against Goodyear. But after the case wended its way to the Supreme Court, she was denied compensation because the court said she had failed to file a "timely" complaint within 180 days of having received the first discriminatory paycheck.

"It is an unfair application of the statute of limitations," said McMahon of the High Court's decision. "She, and others like her, should be able to continue to bring their claims with each new paycheck. And . . . each new paycheck should trigger a new claim."

McMahon said that for the court to have ruled as it did is a violation of the U.S. Civil Rights Act and the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and that only legislation -- which is expected to be before the new Congress next year -- could right the wrong. -- -- --

Elsewhere on the campaign trail yesterday, Ms. Hyer-Spencer announced that she has been endorsed for re-election to the Assembly by the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association and the Uniformed Fire Officers Association. Representatives of the groups praised the Democrat's "unwavering support" and "proven track record of commitment."

Also, the Richmond County Bar Association issued its formal "approved" ratings of both candidates running for Supreme Court, Republican Acting Supreme Court Justice Philip Straniere and Democratic Acting Supreme Court Justice Judith McMahon.

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