The Feminist Majority strongly supported and worked toward the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which was the first bill signed into law by President Obama. This bill was necessary to correct a 2007 Roberts Supreme Court decision that essentially gutted Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits sex discrimination in employment by employers of 15 or more individuals engaged in interstate commerce, making it more difficult for women to file suit in cases of pay discrimination.
It is critically important that we now take the next steps in eliminating pay discrimination. The Feminist Majority has worked to pass both the Paycheck Fairness Act (S.3220; H.R.1519) and the Fair Pay Act for years.
Paycheck Fairness Act
The Paycheck Fairness Act makes changes to the Equal Pay Act which improves remedies in cases of sex discrimination. It also makes it illegal for an employer to retaliate against employees for disclosing their wages to other employees. On June 5, 2012, Republicans in the Senate filibustered the Senate bill, preventing it from going to the Senate floor for a vote. The House bill has sat in committee without any action taken to move it forward.
Fair Pay Act
The Fair Pay Act, if passed, would make the largest impact on wage discrimination. This bill addresses wage disparity that exists between “equivalent jobs” that are dominated by one sex, race or by national origin. The Fair Pay Act was introduced in the Senate in 2013 on the 4th anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act by then Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and in the House by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) who is the only sponsor. The bill remains in committees in both the Senate and House with no hope of movement in this Congress.
The Feminist Majority will urge passage of this extremely important Act to close the wage gap. When Harking, then chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, he said, “The average woman loses more than $400,0o00 over her lifetime due to unequal pay practices, and evidence shows that discrimination accounts for much of the disparity. The Fair Pay Act would address the more systematic forms of discrimination and the historic pattern of undervaluing and underpaying so-called women’s work.
The Feminist Majority will push passage as soon as there is a more favorable climate for women’s rights in Congress.