One of the first laws to be signed by President Obama will allow women to sue for pay discrimination in the workplace.
After being passed by the House on Jan 9th, the bill was recently approved by the Senate. A monumental step for women is that all 16 female senators, both Democrat and Republican, voted for the bill.
Prior to this law, employees were able to sue for unequal pay, but there was a loophole—a claim needed to be made within 180 days of the company’s decision to pay a worker less than their counterparts. However, for women like Lilly Ledbetter, whom the bill is named after, 180 days isn’t enough time to detect payment discrimination. For Ms. Ledbetter is wasn’t until the end of her 19 year career with Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. that she became aware that she was a victim of payment discrimination.
Just last year, the Census Bureau estimated that women only receive 78 cents for every dollar made by men doing equivalent jobs. Even worse, it is estimated that Latinas make 55 cents for every dollar a man makes.
“By swiftly passing this legislation, Congress sets a new tone for employment rights,” said Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU legislative counsel.
The passing of this bill is a huge step for women’s rights. For women making less than their male counterparts, it is reassuring to know that we are under an administration that respects the work of women and their right to equal pay. Furthermore, the bill applies to discrimination based on race, religion, national origin, disability and age, helping to separate employment from prejudice.
Contributed by Angela Donadic, Policy and Advocacy Fellow