Lilly Ledbetter is not just an Alabama hero, she's an American hero. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was the first bill signed into law by President Barack Obama. Without Ledbetter's grit and determination, American women would still be waiting for that law, and still at the mercy of employers who — under cover of secrecy — pay them less than men doing the exact same work, often with less training and experience.
“Goodyear paid me unfairly for 17 years, and my family needed that money.”
- requiring employers to demonstrate that wage differentials are based on factors other than sex;
- prohibiting retaliation against workers who inquire about their employers’ wage practices or disclose their own wages;
- permitting reasonable comparisons between employees within clearly defined geographical areas to determine fair wages;
- strengthening penalties for equal pay violations;
- directing the Department of Labor to assist employers and collect wage-related data; and
- authorizing additional training for Equal Employment Opportunity Commission staff to better identify and handle wage disputes.
The second point — disclosing wages — is critical. The Supreme Court threw out Lilly Ledbetter's case and denied her 17 years of back pay because they said she should have filed her complaint within 180 days of receiving her first paycheck. There was no way for Lilly Ledbetter to know she was underpaid because Goodyear employees weren't supposed to disclose their wages. She didn't learn men doing the same job were earning 20% more until seventeen years later, when someone left an anonymous note in her mailbox.
Women have made progress, but there's still a long way to go before equal pay for equal work is a reality in this country. President Obama has made fair pay a priority from day one. Join Women for Obama to make sure he has time to finish the job.