The Democratic women Senators and Members of the House held a rally today to support passage of fair pay legislation. The rally, organized by Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), focused on two pay equity bills pending before Congress, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act blocked by a Republican filibuster in the Senate and the Paycheck Fairness Act. The Ledbetter Act has passed the House, but Republican leadership orchestrated a filibuster of the bill in April. All of the Senate Democrats and only six Republicans voted to stop the filibuster. The cloture vote failed by only three votes: 56 to 42 with Senators McCain and Hagel not voting and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) switching his vote to no so he can bring up the bill again, which is expected to occur in September.
Lilly Ledbetter, whose Supreme Court case led to the reversal of decades of precedent in wage discrimination cases, spoke of her hope that the bill will become law so that women in the future will have the ability to seek the redress that the Supreme Court denied her. Ledbetter worked for Goodyear for 19 years before discovering that she was paid significantly less than her male counterparts with the same or less experience. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the complaint had to be filed within 180 days of the initial salary decision even if the victim is unaware of the discrimination until much later.
Speaking in support of the Paycheck Fairness Act were the chief sponsors of the bill in the Senate and House, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT). Speaker Nancy Pelosi also spoke in support. The intent of this bill is to provide more effective remedies to victims of wage discrimination based on gender. It also amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to require the EEOC to collect wage data based on gender.
Organizations joining the rally in support of passage of the fair pay measures included the Feminist Majority, the National Women’s Law Center, the National Organization for Women (NOW), the American Association of University Women, the National Partnership for Women and Families and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.
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