For Immediate Release:
January 27, 2009
Stacey Farnen Bernards
(202) 225 - 3130
(202) 225 - 3130
WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor today in support of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which passed the House and is now headed to President Obama for his signature. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“I am proud that one of the very first bills passed by this House in the 111th Congress was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. In passing that bill, we recognized that sexism and discrimination can still cheat women out of equal pay and equal worth—a theft of livelihood and dignity that is especially damaging as families across our country struggle to pay their bills. Within my lifetime, sexism in the workplace could be blatant and unashamed; but today, it does some of its worst work in secret. We can take a stand against it by voting for final passage today.
“It was secret sexism that cheated Lilly Ledbetter out of thousands of dollars, for years. And we repeat her story not because it is unique and shocking, but because it is typical of the experiences of so many American women.
“Ms. Ledbetter was a supervisor at a tire plant, and for years she was paid less than her male coworkers. For years, though, she was left in the dark, and by the time she finally saw the proof, it was too late. The Supreme Court ruled that even though Ms. Ledbetter had suffered clear discrimination, she had missed a technicality—she had failed to file suit 180 days after her first unfair paycheck. Of course, Ms. Ledbetter didn’t even know her paychecks were unfair until years after the fact. But the justices decided that women like her were out of luck for a lifetime.
“The Court’s flawed ruling left many victims of pay discrimination without legal recourse. With this bill, we aim to restore that right to redress by allowing employees to file suit 180 days after each unfair paycheck—because pay discrimination is an ongoing practice that is renewed every time an employer signs an unfair paycheck.
“Opponents of this bill might argue that it will lead to more lawsuits. I’d respond that employers who discriminate could end those lawsuits tomorrow, if they paid their female employees fairly. But until that happens, women who face sexism have every right to get the pay, and the respect, they deserve.
“So I urge my colleagues to support final passage of this bill and send it to President Obama’s desk. It would be fitting if this were one of the first bills he signed—a reminder that, even in hard times, we can always make time for justice.”