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Annual Equal Pay Day to Recognize Ledbetter Act, Paycheck Fairness Act

Today is Equal Pay Day, which is designed to increase public consciousness of the gap between men’s and women’s wages. This year, equal pay advocates are commemorating the passage of the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Act and pushing for passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act. Equal Pay Day was established in 1996 and is celebrated annually on a chosen Tuesday in April. According to the National Committee on Pay Equity, Tuesday was selected to signify that women must work until this day in the work week to earn the same total that men did the previous week. The website suggests wearing the color red to “symbolize how far women and minorities are ‘in the red’ with their pay.” The 2009 passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Act corrected the Roberts Supreme Court decision (see PDF) that gutted the ability of women workers to sue for wage discrimination. The Act passed helps not only women, but all workers who are victims of wage discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, national origin, age, or disability. However, it was just a beginning. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Lilly Ledbetter wrote on the Huffington Post today in support of the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill sponsored by Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT). According to the Govtrack summary, the bill “Amends the…Equal Pay Act to revise remedies for, enforcement of, and exceptions to prohibitions against sex discrimination in the payment of wages.” On her website, Senator Mikulski said “[This bill] will help empower women to negotiate for equal pay, create strong incentives for employers to obey the laws already in place, and strengthen enforcement. It is time to recommit to closing the wage gap…I firmly believe that all forms of discrimination should be prohibited. I believe people should be judged by their individual skills, competence, unique talents and nothing else. And once you get that job because of your skills and talents you better get equal pay for equal work. It’s time to tell all of those who have suffered wage discrimination – it’s a new day!”

Sources:

National Committee on Pay Equity; Feminist Daily News 4/8/10; Huffington Post 4/20/10; Govtrack.us; Senator Barbara Mikulski 4/16/10