Six years ago in January, President Obama signed his first piece of legislation — the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act – to extend the time period in which an employee could file a claim for pay discrimination. The Act overruled the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber, which Ledbetter said allowed her employer to pay her unfairly “long enough to make it legal.”
At the time of its passage, President Obama said that the passage of the Act would “send a clear message that making our economy work means making sure it works for everyone.”
Sadly, in the six years since the passage of the Act, the gender pay gap has – at best – barely budged. Indeed, by some estimates, the wage gap has actually widened in the last few years.
If the new Congress is truly committed to the goal of pay equity, concrete steps must be taken. First, Congress should pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which will strengthen the Equal Pay Act and help secure equal pay for equal work. Second, Congress must act to increase the minimum wage, as women make up two-thirds of the country’s minimum wage earners. Third, Congress should enact a universal, government-paid preschool program, as 10% of the wage gap is attributable to time that women spend outside of the workforce.
While the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was a step in the right direction, Congress still has a lot of work to do to close the persisting wage gap. Let’s hope by the Seventh Anniversary of the Act, we are closer to pay equity and an economy that truly works for everyone.
This article originally appeared on celavoice.org on January 29, 2015. Reprinted with Permission.
About the Author: Sharon Vinick is the Managing Partner of Levy Vinick Burrell Hyam LLP, the largest women-owned law firm in the state that specializes in representing plaintiffs in employment cases. In more than two decades of representing employees, Sharon has enjoyed great success, securing numerous six and seven figure settlements and judgments for her clients. Sharon has been named by Northern California Super Lawyers for the past five years. Sharon is a graduate of Harvard Law School and UC Berkeley. In addition to being a talented attorney, Sharon is an darn good cook.