AAUW, Lilly Ledbetter Call for Action on Equal Pay on Ledbetter Law’s Fifth Anniversary

January 23, 2014


Media Contact:

Amy Becker

Congress and the President Should Stop Resting on Ledbetter Laurels

WASHINGTON — The American Association of University Women (AAUW) joins Lilly Ledbetter in urging the president and Congress to make progress on equal pay for equal work in 2014. Progress on the issue has stalled in the five years since President Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

“Congress and President Obama both need to stop resting on their Ledbetter laurels,” said Linda D. Hallman, CAE, CEO of AAUW. “They cannot always fall back on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act as if all the work to close the gender pay gap were finished.”

The Ledbetter Act, which was signed into law on January 29, 2009, simply reversed a bad U.S. Supreme Court decision and restored the long-standing interpretation of civil rights laws that allowed employees to challenge every discriminatory paycheck.

AAUW urges Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, the necessary companion legislation to the Ledbetter bill. As Ledbetter has said, “Giving women my Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act without the Paycheck Fairness Act is like giving them a nail without the hammer.” The stalled Paycheck Fairness Act would help create stronger incentives for employers to pay workers fairly, empower women to negotiate for equal pay, and prohibit retaliation against employees who share salary information.

Because of the intractable gridlock in Congress, however, AAUW is calling on the president to act immediately. The president alone can advance pay equity for almost a quarter of the nation’s workforce.

“President Obama could issue an executive order right now that would ban federal contractors from retaliating against workers who ask about wage practices or share salary information,” Ledbetter said. “This is a critical element of the stalled Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill the president has said he would sign into law.”

The president’s executive order would protect roughly 26 million workers, or 22 percent of the nation’s workforce, from being retaliated against — or even fired — for discussing salaries. Empowering employees to discuss salaries leads to open dialogue that is often associated with a smaller gender pay gap.

A 2012 AAUW report, Graduating to a Pay Gap: The Earnings of Women and Men One Year after College Graduation, found that the pay gap exists one year out of college — and gets worse over the course of a woman’s career. The study controlled for factors known to affect earnings, such as education, parenthood, and hours worked, and found that women earn 7 percent less than men earn just one year out of college, even when they have the same major and occupation. A 7 percent difference is a significant amount for families trying to make ends meet, and the gap sets women back throughout their careers since most benefits, including retirement funds, are based on salary.

Ledbetter will spend the fifth anniversary of her namesake law with AAUW. At 8:30 p.m. EST that day, she will share her story of pay inequity on a nationwide call hosted by members of Congress and a coalition of organizations including AAUW.

On January 30 Ledbetter will lead the AAUW Action Fund Capitol Hill Lobby Corps on visits to Senate offices to urge the passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act. She will also be the guest of honor at a reception at AAUW that evening.

Not a member of the media? You can still join the call. RSVP online now.

By:   |   January 23, 2014