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House Passes Pay Equity Legislation

The Center for American Progress applauds the House of Representatives for passing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act today.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Rep. Zoe Lofgren, (D-CA), right, are joined by leaders of women's organizations before the House passed both the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act today. (AP/Victoria Burke)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Rep. Zoe Lofgren, (D-CA), right, are joined by leaders of women's organizations before the House passed both the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act today. (AP/Victoria Burke)

The Center for American Progress applauds the House of Representatives for passing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act today. Both pieces of legislation are essential to moving forward in our efforts to narrow the gender pay gap.

The Ledbetter Act would correct a 2007 ruling by the Supreme Court that made it harder for victims of pay discrimination to bring a suit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The decision illogically requires employees to sue within 180 days of receiving their first discriminatory paycheck, even if they do not yet know they are being underpaid. Last year, the House passed the Ledbetter Act, but it fell short in the Senate by a mere three votes.

While the Ledbetter Act would bring us back to where we started, the Paycheck Fairness Act will move us forward. This bill would strengthen the Equal Pay Act by allowing full recovery of damages for sex-based pay discrimination, closing loopholes in employer defenses, protecting employees who share salary information from retaliation, and improving the government’s ability to collect data and enforce our equal pay laws.

More than 45 years after the passage of the Equal Pay Act, women overall still make only 78 cents on every dollar earned by men. A recent report by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, “Lifetime Losses: The Career Wage Gap,” found that this gap adds up to significant losses for women and their families over a 40-year period, to the tune of $434,000.

Jessica Arons, the report’s author and Director of the Women’s Health and Rights Program at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, said, “We thank the House for its strong leadership on this important issue and urge the Senate to swiftly follow the House’s example. Especially in times of great economic instability, reforms like this can make the difference between families getting by or not getting by.”

These two bills are important steps forward in eliminating the antiquated wage gap. We are grateful to Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and George Miller (D-CA) for their leadership on behalf of and dedication to working women and their families.

 

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