On January 27, President Obama signed his first bill into law: the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, an anti-discrimination law that will make it easier for workers to sue their employers over inequities in pay based on gender, race, or age discrimination. This is another encouraging sign that Obama plans to end the Bush administration’s wars on women and labor.
President Obama: Lilly Ledbetter did not set out to be a trailblazer or a household name. She was just a good hard worker who did her job—and she did it well—for nearly two decades before discovering that for years she was paid less than her male colleagues for doing the very same work. Over the course of her career she lost more than $200,000 in salary, and even more in pension and social security benefits—losses that she still feels today.
Now, Lilly could have accepted her lot and moved on. She could have decided that it wasn’t worth the hassle and the harassment that would inevitably come for speaking up for what she deserved. But instead, she decided that there was a principle at stake. Something worth fighting for. So she set out on a journey that would take more than ten years, take her all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States, and lead to this day and this bill, which will help others get the justice that she was denied.
Because while this bill bears her name, Lilly knows that this story isn’t just about her. It’s the story of women across this country still earning just 78 cents for every dollar men earn. Women of color, even less. Which means that today, in the year 2009, countless women are still losing thousands of dollars in salary, income, and retirement savings over the course of a lifetime.
Related post: Equal Pay For Equal Work: The Moment For Women Is Now by Madeleine Kunin.
Photo courtesy of the Center for American Progress at AmericanProgress.org.