Tag Archives: Paycheck Fairness Act

President Obama and the Paycheck Fairness Act

By Jillian Martin, Editorial Assistant

On January 24, President Barack Obama made his annual State of the Union address. In it, he touched on important issues that will come up in the next few months as he campaigns against the Republican candidate.

While discussing his plan for economic growth, this year’s top priority, he said, “You see, an economy built to last is one where we encourage the talent and ingenuity of every person in this country.  That means women should earn equal pay for equal work.” This statement, short as it is, is important.

While women may have the right to vote, and sexual discrimination when hiring and at the workplace is illegal, women in the U.S. continue to earn less than men for equal work (approximately 78 cents to every one dollar. And let’s not forget about women of color, who are paid even less. The National Women’s Organization reports “African American women earn only 61 cents and Latinas just 52 cents [compared to every one dollar men earn for equal work].”

Since the beginning of his term, the President has been dedicated to this issue of pay equity. In fact, in 2009, the first bill that Obama signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act. When Lilly Ledbetter neared retirement, she learned that her male co-workers were paid more for equal work. The case went to the Supreme Court where the Court ruled that the statue of limitations had passed—she should have filed the suit within 180 days of the first sign of pay discrimination. The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, which amends Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, says the suit can be filed 180 days after the most recent paycheck that shows discrimination, thereby making it much easier for women to file for claims in cases of pay inequity.

Art by Angelica Garcia, 17, Illinois

Obama’s support of the Lilly Ledbetter Act three years ago was critical to its transition from an idea to a legally enforceable mandate.  And this year, Obama is making it clear that he is still committed to pay equity.  Two days after his State of the Union Address, Obama uploaded a video to YouTube explaining why he signed the Lilly Leadbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act into law and why he supports the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 182/H.R. 12), which some have called the “next step” toward equality and ‘closing the wage gap.’ This bill passed the House in January, but still needs to pass the Senate before it becomes a law.  The act looks to remedy pay discrimination based on sex.

If it were to pass, the Paycheck Fairness Act would work to end the discrimination of pay between women and men by implementing specific regulations and creating more opportunities for women to be paid equally, and to protest when they are not. Some of these regulations include requiring education, training, and work experience as determinants in or reasons for a change in pay or position. Additionally, employees would be legally allowed to discuss their wages with co-workers, if they so wished, which would enlighten someone if he or she was being underpaid. Women would be given the chance to participate in negotiation training, where they would develop skills to negotiate their salary. On a broad scale, the bill would bring a great change to the workforce practices in place today.

While it is heartening that the Paycheck Fairness Act has been reinstated for debate in Congress since our blog entry: “Congress Votes Down Paycheck Fairness Act” in November 2010, there is still a long way to go before this bill becomes law. As young women, this law may not seem relevant to you yet, but it is. Over the course of your lifetime, it could mean millions of dollars more in your pocket.

As the 2012 Presidential election approaches, we hope to see this wage gap issue and other women’s rights issues discussed among the candidates.

For more on the Paycheck Fairness Act and Obama’s policy on equal rights, visit the following websites: the National Organization for Women, the American Association for University Women, and The President’s Record on Equal Rights.

Congress Votes Down Paycheck Fairness Act

By Ashley Morris

On Wednesday, the Paycheck Fairness Act was voted down. What exactly does this mean for the future of women’s wages? American women continue to earn less than men, and the Paycheck Fairness Act would have addressed the loopholes employers have used to keep women from earning less.

Hillary Clinton, then a senator representing New York, introduced the 2009 Pay Check Fairness Act to strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963. In our April blog post, April 20 Is Equal Pay Day, we discussed the importance of a bill like this becoming law.

Fifty-eight voters approved the bill and 41 were against it.  It would have taken just two additional senators’ votes to pass the bill. But despite the bill’s failure by such a small margin, the fight for equal pay is far from over. The bill can be reinstated, but will have to go through both chambers of the new Congress next year.

On Wednesday, President Obama expressed his disappointment with Congress’s failure to pass the act, and said, “My administration will continue to fight for a woman’s right to equal pay for equal work.”

News like this is a great incentive to get more involved in finding out what your state elected officials are supporting when it comes to women’s rights and equal pay. Spread the word! The American Association of University Women suggests adding a pay equity web sticker to your website or blog to promote equal pay action. If you‘re looking for more ways on how to get involved, you can download a Pay Equity Resource kit at aauw.org. And write to your senators! Your voice can inspire those around you to become supporters for change in the fight for equal pay rights.

For more information on pay equity, visit aauw.org and opencongress.org.

April 20 is Equal Pay Day

By Teen Voices editorial intern Ariana Hakim

Did you know that in 2010, women are still paid about 77 cents for every dollar that their male counterparts earn for the same work? Today, women and men who believe in equal pay are wearing red to signify how women are still kept “in the red.” Equal Pay Day is held on April 20 because this is the date when women’s salaries finally catch up with men’s salaries from the previous calendar year.

So why is this still happening in 2010? Great question! President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act in 1963 hoping to get rid of this pay gap, but employers have found loopholes to get around paying women the same salaries as men. In 2009, Senator Hillary Clinton introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act to help close these loopholes, but the House and Senate have yet to pass it. Statistics from the U.S. Census indicate that a growing number of women are the breadwinners in their households, either because they are single mothers or because they make more than their spouse.

The National Committee on Pay Equity, the National Women’s Law Center, and the American Association of University Women are only a few organizations working to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.

See how men and women’s salaries have changed over the years at Pay Equity.

Take Action!

Urge your senator to vote for the Paycheck Fairness Act at opencongress.org.