AFT Commends President for Signing Fair Pay ActPresident Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act on Jan. 29, which "sends a clear signal that the issue of fair pay is one of his administration's top priorities," AFT president Randi Weingarten says.
As enacted, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act corrects the U.S. Supreme Court's misinterpretation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 regarding the timely filing of a pay-discrimination claim. The bill is named after the Alabama woman who, after working nearly 20 years at a Goodyear Tire plant, discovered she had been paid significantly less than men doing the same job.
A federal jury ruled in her favor but Goodyear appealed, and in 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Ledbetter—and other workers—had no right to sue for a remedy in cases of pay discrimination after more than 180 days after the first paycheck, even if she didn't discover the pay discrimination until years later. Based on the Supreme Court's misguided ruling, hundreds of pay discrimination cases were thrown out of court.
"In a time of economic uncertainty, President Obama has sent a strong message about the rights and protections that should be accorded to all workers," Weingarten says. "Helping workers retain their right to fair and equitable compensation is one of the AFT's priorities. For this reason, we have long supported Lilly Ledbetter's quest to ensure that all workers receive equal pay for equal work."
At the AFT convention last July, Ledbetter's advocacy was recognized when she was given the union's 2008 Women's Rights Award. "What happened to me was not only an insult to my dignity; it has real and meaningful consequences for my ability to care for my family," Ledbetter said at the awards breakfast.
"We were proud to honor her then," Weingarten says, "and we are pleased that her fight is now memorialized in a law that protects the rights of all workers." [AFT press release, AFL-CIO]
January 29, 2009