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Lilly Ledbetter and members of Congress with President Barack Obama as he finished signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009.
Tuesday is the fourth anniversary of the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act—the first bill Barack Obama signed into law as president. But while the Ledbetter Act was a good step, women still lack necessary protections against pay discrimination, and Republicans are still blocking a bill that would offer some of those protections. Last week, Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Rep. Rosa DeLauro reintroduced the Paycheck Fairness Act, which was filibustered in the Senate in 2010 and 2012.

The Paycheck Fairness Act closes loopholes in the Equal Pay Act of 1963, in ways that would have helped Lilly Ledbetter herself, as the ACLU's Deborah J. Vagins explains:

It would also provide more remedies for wage discrimination and prohibit retaliation against workers who inquire about wages or disclose their own wages to their co-workers. This provision is particularly significant when you consider that Ms. Ledbetter could not sue for so long because she did not know about her discriminatorily low wages due to a company nondisclosure policy. Nearly 50 percent of employers either discourage or outright ban employees from discussing their wages. As Lilly herself discusses, had the Paycheck Fairness Act been the law when she was working at Goodyear, she would have been able to find out that her pay was less than her male co-workers without fear of retaliation and would have more easily been able to do something about it.
The need for stronger equal pay protections isn't just an abstraction:
The most recent data shows that woman working full time, year round are paid 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. This is a statistic that is unchanged from not only four years ago, but this gap has remained the same for a decade. For women of color, it’s much worse, with the typical African-American woman paid 64 cents and the typical Latina woman paid 55 cents for every dollar paid to a white, non-Hispanic man. A gap in wages occurs at all education levels, after work experience is taken into account, and it gets worse as women’s careers progress.
That's rent. It's groceries. It's medical bills. It's tuition for your kids. It's the ability to retire. The Paycheck Fairness Act won't come like a lightning bolt out of the sky and end all discrimination everywhere, but it would give women a fighting chance at fairness.

Tell Congress it's time to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 01:15 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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