Jan 29, 2009

Lilly Ledbetter: Another Beautiful Thing from Obama

President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair-pay Act today--to help ensure women receive the same pay as men for the same work, by allowing extra time for a woman to sue her employer for wage discrimination. Oh, happy day!

Ellen Bravo, of the Miami Herald, claims women in the U.S. made 76 cents for every dollar earned by men doing the same job in 2003. Other gender gap estimates put it at 75.5 cents per dollar (US Census Bureau) or as high as 83.8 center per dollar (US Department of Labor). That there has been any difference in wages in this country for women and men performing the same job is shameful, much less a difference somewhere between 20 and 25%. This extreme inequity should have been made explicitly illegal a long time ago.

Lilly Ledbetter, the woman for whom the new law is named, worked for Goodyear Tires for 19 years as a supervisor. She did not find out about the huge wage discrepancy for the men who held the same level at her company until she was close to retirement. Her case made it to the Supreme Court, which promptly threw it out, saying she should have filed when the she first started working for Goodyear (long before she knew about the discrimination). Decisions like that displace the thorny issue of fairness and embed in a distraction like timing. I thought the Supreme Court’s raison d’ĂȘtre was thorny issues, not smokescreens.

Today, there is some justice and cause for women in this country to smile. Another beautiful thing from Obama’s administration. I'm going to be counting them and look forward to many more.

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