Ledbetter A Victory, But Work Is Not Done

Fatima Goss Graves

The Lilly Ledbetter Act is a major victory for workers. But Congress must pass additional fair pay legislation, closing loopholes that currently prevent enforcement of equal pay laws.

Today President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law, reversing the Supreme Court’s 2007 decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. The first substantive bill signed into law by the President, the Fair Pay Act restores the law that existed for decades, making clear that each discriminatory paycheck is a new act of discrimination that resets the 180-day limit to file pay discrimination claims. 

It is a victory for Ms. Ledbetter, who worked for nearly 20 years at a Goodyear plant in Gadsden, Alabama, the whole time making substantially less than her male co-workers. It is a victory for women – who still make only 78 cents for every dollar paid to men. And it is a victory for all workers, whose ability to fight pay discrimination on the basis of sex, race, national origin, disability, religion or age has now been restored. 

But as Lilly Ledbetter said today immediately after the President signed the bill, our work is not done. She committed to fight for the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would update the Equal Pay Act, closing loopholes that currently prevent effect enforcement of the law. The House passed the Paycheck Fairness Act in the first week of the new Congress. Now it’s the Senate’s turn to continue the fight for fair pay. 

Ms. Ledbetter will never see a dime of her lost wages, but she has committed to work to ensure that future generations of women are paid fairly for their work and that employers are properly held accountable for discrimination. As Ms. Ledbetter said today, we need to ensure that her daughters and granddaughters and our children and grandchildren get a better deal.  
For more details on the fight for fair pay, visit the National Women’s Law Center’s website.

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