Thursday, January 29

New Legislation Guarantees Equal Pay for Women

I was fresh out of college and had visions of finding the right job where I could prove I was an intelligent and hard working employee and then I was sure career advancement and pay increases would follow.

Then I did a phone interview with the president of a local non-profit and my Pollyanna world crumbled just a bit. The guy was doing screening interviews and so we talked about my qualifications and a little bit about the available position. At the end of the call, he gave me the salary range for the position and then stated, "Now you do realize that if you were a guy, you'd make more money. That's just the way it is in business, men tend to make more than women."

My jaw hit the ground. First, I couldn't believe pay discrimination even existed; I thought it was simply an urban legend or practice that maybe existed 50 years prior. Secondly, if it did, I couldn't believe an employer would openly admit to it.

That's why I was especially happy that the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act was signed into law today by President Obama.

Lilly Ledbetter filed a 1998 suit against a Goodyear Tire Rubber Co. plant in Gadsen, Ala., after learning that men working in the same position were making more money. In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 vote that Ledbetter had waited too long to sue, since she brought the suit near the end of her 19-year career with the company.

The new legislation allows lawsuits to be brought years later, as long as the alleged pay disparity is continuing. The bill does not change current law limiting back pay for claimants to two years.

On average, women make 78 cents for every dollar men earn. The new legislation isn't limited to gender-based discrimination. It amends the 1964 Civil Rights Act and also applies to discrimination based on race, religion, national origin, disability or age.

Agree or disagree with this legislation? What are your thoughts?



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Shauna said...

I think the disparity among pay between genders is a bipartisan issue. Democrat or Republican, one can certainly make a claim for inequality of pay. It is true that as a "minority" himself, Obama is probably more in-tune with the issues that are inherent in that. Let's not forget, however, that black men gained the right to vote approximately 80 years before women did. We keep talking about the discouraging state of race relations in America- but after the last election, it should be quite clear that we are certainly at least or more out of sync in terms of gender relations.

Last week, I replaced a doorknob on our front door. My 5 year old daughter asked me, "Did Dad say you could do that? Shouldn't you wait for HIM to do that?" Later she said, "Huh, I guess girls CAN do stuff". I was mortified. Where did I go wrong? I talked to her teacher and found out that she had befriended a little boy in her class whose father has filled him with so much anti-woman propaganda, it is spilling out all over my little girl.

Armed with my laptop and a sense of indignation - I put together a power point presentation on Women's History and Suffrage and all the things that women can do. I hope some day that when she has a daughter, we will be past those ideas.

Just because someone outside the norm of Washington politics has been elected, we need to be cautious to not rest on our laurels and think that he will "fix" all the gender woes.


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