WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today, commemorating the 45th anniversary of the signing of the Equal Pay Act:
“Forty five years ago today, President Kennedy signed into law the landmark Equal Pay Act. It was a law founded on a powerful principle: that the value of work lies in a job well done, not in the gender of the worker. Since 1963, it has been illegal for employers to pay men and women at different rates for the same work. And as a result, women have made significant gains for equality in the workplace. Before the Equal Pay Act was passed, the average woman earned about 60 cents for every dollar earned by a man; today, the wage gap has narrowed to 77 cents for every dollar.
“But that’s still not enough. Sexism still exists in America, and it continues to rob women of their equal right to earn a livelihood, provide for their families, and secure the dignity of their labor. Much of it goes on in secret, as we’ve seen in the case of Lily Ledbetter. 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 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.
“That decision clearly runs counter to the spirit and intent of the Equal Pay Act, and it could leave thousands of hardworking women without recourse against discrimination. That’s why Democrats are working hard to pass the Fair Pay Restoration Act, a bill that would give women like Lily Ledbetter a fair chance to have their cases heard. It would be a fitting companion to the Equal Pay Act and an important milestone in the effort begun 45 years ago to guarantee equal pay for equal work.”