Congressman Filner says more must be done to close wage gap between men and women

Washington, DC – U.S. Congressman Bob Filner called for the Senate to take up a bill that would help close the wage gap between men and women on Equal Pay Day – the day that marks how much longer women would have to work from the previous year to “catch up” with their male counterparts.

“It’s been 47 years since President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law,” said Congressman Filner.  “And yet still today, there isn’t equal pay for equal work in this country.”

In 1963, when the Equal Pay Act was signed, women who worked full time year-round made 59 cents on average for every dollar earned by men.  In 2008, women earned 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.  That is progress – but it is slow progress.  It means that the wage gap has narrowed by less than half a cent per year.

In January 2009, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was signed into law by President Obama, only a week after he was inaugurated as President.

“The enactment of the Lilly Ledbetter Act was a major victory,” said Filner.  “Now, the Senate needs to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act and send it to the President’s desk.”

The Paycheck Fairness Act gives teeth to the Equal Pay Act of 1963.  It closes numerous loopholes in the Equal Pay Act and stiffens penalties for employers who discriminate based on gender.  It protects employees from retaliation for sharing salary information with their co-workers, with some exemptions.  And it creates initiatives to provide negotiation skills training programs for girls and women.  The House passed the bill by a vote of 256-163 in January 2009.

The Lilly Ledbetter Act restored the right of women and other workers to challenge unfair pay in court.  Specifically, it rectified the May 2007 Ledbetter v Goodyear Supreme Court decision that overturned the precedent and made it much more difficult for workers to pursue pay discrimination claims.  The law simply restored the longstanding interpretation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and other discrimination statutes, thereby protecting women and other workers.

Equal Pay Day highlights the need for equal pay for women workers.  Today, people across the country will mark the time of year in which the wages paid to American women “catch up” to the wages paid to men from the previous year.  In other words, because the average woman earns less, she must work longer for the same amount of pay.