Equal Pay Day: Continuing Lilly Ledbetter's Fight
Today, April 9, 2013, is National Equal Pay Day, created in 2006 to help raise awareness of the wage gap. The day reflects how far into the current year women must work to match what men earned in the previous year. Our own MAKER Lilly Ledbetter waged a personal battle for equal pay that led to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Act in 2009, a huge step in the right direction for equal gender pay!
As an area manager at Goodyear, Ledbetter worked for nineteen years until she learned the alarming fact that she had been making far less than her male colleagues for the entirety of her employment. After filing a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, the case ended up in the Supreme Court, which ruled 5-4 in favor of Goodyear, citing that Ledbetter had missed the statute of limitation (then, only 180 days from her first unequal paycheck).
In 2009, however, President Barack Obama made the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act the first piece of official legislation he signed upon taking office. The bill revises previous legislation so employees can sue up to 180 days after receiving any discriminatory paycheck.
According to the United States Department of Labor, today's women earn about 80 cents on the dollar compared to men. Over the course of career, that gap comes to around $380,000. For African-American women and Latinas, the pay gap is even greater.
This year, women must work more than three months' extra work to equal what men earned in 2012. As women hopefully continue to follow in Ledbetter's groundbreaking example, we will move closer to closing the gap once and for all.