Time is Running Out - Senate Needs to Pass Paycheck Fairness Act

Members of the Senate will soon recess for August and then spend a short time back in Washington before returning to their home states for the November elections. Not many days are left on the Senate's calendar to pass legislation. Last week, Lilly Ledbetter joined Vice President Joe Biden, Attorney General Eric Holder, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and other administration officials for a press conference to send a message to the Senate: "Please pass the Paycheck Fairness Act!"

TAKE ACTION: NOW activists should call AND email their senators, urging them to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act (S.182/H.R.12), which the House adopted early in 2009. Urge your senators to do the right thing and move the bill to a floor vote now. It would also help to call your senator's local office, or even drop by, while she/he is home during August to deliver the same message.

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Background:

Women are now half of the paid workforce, but as the recession continues, many women find that their family economic circumstances have changed. An unprecedented number of women are family breadwinners due to deeper unemployment rates among men -- making pay equity essential not simply to the economic security of families but also to the nation's economic recovery.

The Paycheck Fairness Act will close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and strengthen it by creating incentives for employers to follow the law. Additionally, the Paycheck Fairness Act would assist women in effectively negotiating for better pay and promotion, further skill trainings for girls and women, restart the research on the gender wage gap and require wage data to be disaggregated by gender, race and ethnicity to ensure that businesses are providing equal pay. Critically important, the Act would prohibit retaliation against employees when salary information is shared, plus strengthen federal outreach and enforcement efforts. Further information on Paycheck Fairness Act provisions can be found in NOW's 2009 fact sheet or in the article, "NOW President Terry O'Neill Praises Obama Administration Pay Equity Initiatives."

President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act at the beginning of the 111th Congress, but the Ledbetter Act only negated a Supreme Court ruling that workers must file charges on a pay discrimination claim within six months after receiving their first discriminatory paycheck (difficult to do if employees are forbidden from comparing salaries). The next crucial step is for the Senate to pass the more comprehensive Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 182/H.R. 12); the House already passed the measure by an even stronger bipartisan vote (256-163) than the Ledbetter bill (247-171).