Janet Walkow Christine Jacobs

Fair Pay for Women

… Lily Ledbetter & Me

April 9 is National Fair Pay Day as designated by Presidential Proclamation.  One Tuesday in April is designated to indicate the pay gap between men and women.  Simply put, with women only earning 77 cents to every dollar for men, we work one day (Monday) free each week.  Read more about this holiday at:  http://www.pay-equity.org/day.html.

The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 was named for a woman who after working for Goodyear rubber in Alabama for many years as a supervisor discovered that she was paid substantially below all of the men, even those with many fewer years of seniority.  This affected not only her immediate pay but also her retirement benefits which were based on pay. She sued Goodyear for back pay and the case went all the way to the US Supreme Court.  Lily lost on a technicality—the previous pay equity acts required a complainant to file her claim with 6 months of the pay issue.  But due to the usually secrecy around pay, Lily did not know about the issue until many years later.  The 2009 Act eliminated this time requirement.

LWP Janet and I had the pleasure of meeting Lilly Ledbetter and I had dinner with her at a Women’s Campaign Fund event in 2012 . This picture of the two of us reminds me of the struggle for equity.

The American Association of University Women just published a superb study of this issue and dispelled many myths.   http://www.aauw.org/resource/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-gap/  They did a clear analysis of the amount of the discrepancy that is due to choices made about profession and working hours and the amount that is due to unknown factors…and the issue is real.

The Lily Ledbetter Act fixed some of the problem by taking away the time limit for filing complaints but more is needed.  The Paycheck Fairness ACT which would eliminate many of the current loopholes in the present laws, give the Department of Labor tools for ensuring compliance, and protect against retaliation for discussing salaries with colleagues.  This Act (Senate Bill 84) has twice been defeated by the Senate on procedural grounds and is once again before the Senate Committee on Health Education, Labor and Pensions with 43 Senators signed on as co-sponsors.

This affects all women and deserves your attention.  The photo of Lily and I together reminds me of the strength of so many women who fought for me to have a good career.  And, how far we have yet to go.

Christine Jacobs is an experienced corporate executive and a co-founder of Leading Women. Read her full bio.

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