Calling the legislation "of the highest priority" for Congress, Speaker Nancy Pelosi this morning called on Congress to pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Fair Pay Act tomorrow. Pelosi argued on a call convened by the National Women’s Law Center that fair pay legislation is critical not only for women and families but for the economic security of our nation. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act will be voted on by the House on Friday.
Lilly Ledbetter, whose wage discrimination case against Goodyear Tire
resulted in the Supreme Court decision that requires employees to file
pay discrimination lawsuits within six months of the first instance
of discrimination, despite company policies that forbid employees from
comparing salaries, said that companies now know that they can’t be
held accountable for pay discrimination "if they do it for long enough
and cover it up well enough."
The Ledbetter Act seeks only to restore the right to a new filing period as each discriminatory paycheck is received. The Paycheck Fairness Act, meanwhile, would bolster existing equal pay legislation, prohibiting employer retaliation when wage discrimination claims are filed and enabling plaintiffs to recover compensatory and punitive damages. Speaker Pelosi predicted that both would be approved by the House tomorrow.
Rep. George Miller said gaps in pay fair protections cost women millions in diminished Social Security and pension payments, and makes health care insurance more expensive. Women are losing jobs at a faster rate than men, Rep. Rosa DeLauro pointed out, saying the economic crisis "has put women on the edge financially."
Rep. DeLauro said that the Senate was looking for floor time to consider the bills next week. The members of Congress expressed hope that the fair pay bills would be among the first President-elect Obama would sign upon taking office.