Speaker Pelosi and Reps. Miller and DeLauro Join Lilly Ledbetter and Civil Rights Leaders to Urge Support on Equal Pay Bills

Media 01.8.09

Washington, D.C. – On the eve of an expected vote on two equal pay bills in the House of Representatives, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Representatives George Miller, D. Calif. and Rosa DeLauro, D. Conn. joined Supreme Court plaintiff Lilly Ledbetter and civil rights leaders from the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) and the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) today to urge the swift passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act.

“Equal pay is an issue of fundamental fairness,” said Speaker Pelosi. “But, as families grapple with difficult economic times, equal pay for equal work is often about daily survival for millions of families. In the first week of the new Congress, we are taking serious action to ensure women receive the fair pay they deserve and their families rely upon.”

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which passed the House of Representatives in the 110th Congress, but fell three votes short of consideration in the Senate, would fix the damaging Supreme Court decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and restore the long-standing rule recognizing each discriminatory paycheck as a separate act of discrimination that can be challenged.

“In today’s economy, every dollar counts for workers and their families. Not only does pay discrimination lead to smaller paychecks, but it also seriously undermines workers’ retirement and health benefits,” said Rep. Miller, chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee. “All workers deserve fair and equal pay for their work, especially with families facing extreme economic uncertainty. It’s long past time to end this injustice and improve the economic security of millions of workers.”

The Paycheck Fairness Act, which on a bipartisan basis also passed the House of Representatives in the 110th Congress, would close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act that have been impediments to achieving fair pay for women in the workplace, as well as provide improved protections to women who suffer from pay discrimination to air grievances.

“While everyone feels the economic crisis, with women still earning only 78 cents for every dollar men earn, in every way women feel it with greater force and poignancy. Through the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, women will finally have more effective tools to combat gender-based pay discrimination. This is a turning point – it is a transformational moment and I look forward to the Senate acting to carry our momentum forward,” said Congresswoman DeLauro.

“Women from all over the country have told me how they are paid less for doing the same job as their male colleagues – and now there’s nothing they can do,” said Lilly Ledbetter. “Congress has the opportunity to restore the promise that the Supreme Court broke in my case and protect women from pay discrimination in the future by enacting both the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act.”

“It is long past time for women to be able to receive equal pay for equal work,” said Marcia D. Greenberger, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center. “Particularly in this time of economic turmoil, Congress must act immediately to pass both the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act to ensure that women have all of the tools necessary to protect their rights and support themselves and their families.”

“Lilly Ledbetter is the woman for whom the case and bill are named – but this is bigger than one woman or one worker. This is a civil rights issue,” said Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.  “This is a matter of fairness and simple justice.  American workers need to know that they will be treated fairly and equitably, especially in these trying economic times.”