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Pay Equity: Raise Your Voice for Lilly Ledbetter and Equal Pay for Equal Work

Democratic leadership in the House on a Thursday conference call — including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. George Miller, chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, vowed to push forward with the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (H.R. 11) and the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R 12).

As Rep. DeLauro said: "Women who work hard and productively and carry a full range of family responsibilities should be treated fairly."

Rep. DeLauro emphasized that close to 1/3 of all women in this country live in poverty. And for unmarried women, especially those who are heads of household with children, things are even more grim. These women have income that is, on average, $12,000 less than unmarried male counterparts. As Wade Henderson of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights said, "this IS a civil rights issue."

This needs to change. Women should earn the same pay for doing the same work. That should not even be a question.

The House is likely to re-introduce these bills late Thursday afternoon or, more likely, early on Friday. Rep. Miller, who has championed the Ledbetter Act through the last congress and today, said that the Senate will likely take up this issue next week as well — that Democratic leadership is looking at the schedule for floor time and that this is a priority for a number of members of the Senate.

With more Democratic senators in office and a few of the obstructing Republicans out, I’m hoping we get past cloture this time around. But we need more than just hope.

This is going to take some work.

Lilly Ledbetter, who was also on the call, said that women from all over the country had contacted her to say that they, too, had found out about discriminatory practices they, too, had to deal with in the workplace. Because her case was overturned by SCOTUS, Lily not only lost her pay discrimination claim, but also has to live with a lower retirement payment than her male supervisory peers who did the same job — because her retirement was calculated based on her wage rate.

The discrimination continues for Lilly, but passing this act can make a huge difference for women — and others as well. Courts all over the country have applied Lily’s ruling to other discriminatory practices to rule in favor of corporations and against civil rights claims for gender, race, age, and many other areas of discriminatory practices. Marcia Greenberger of the National Women’s Law Center emphasized there are countless more victims that we’ll never be able to count, because they weren’t even able to file discrimination claims after the Ledbetter decision undercut their ability to do so.

Passage of these laws is essential. But we need your help. Please call your Representative today and tell them to support the Lilly Ledbetter Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act (HR 11 and HR 12). And then call your Senators and do the same. Raise your voice for Lilly — and for Justice Ginsburg — and please do it today!

(YouTube — Lilly Ledbetter’s testimony before the House Education And Labor Committee.)

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com