Leslie A. Farber
Changes to the Fair Pay Act
Updated: Jul 3, 2019
The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was the first bill signed into law on January 29, 2009. The Act amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It states that the 180-day statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit regarding pay discrimination resets with each new paycheck affected by the discriminatory action rather than the date the employer made the initial discriminatory wage decision.
Lilly Ledbetter was a production supervisor at Goodyear Tire & Rubber. She discovered that her male counterparts were paid more than she was for the exact same work. She took her complaint all the way to the supreme court but in 2007, they ruled that claims like hers had to be filed within 180 days of the employers’ decision to pay that worker less – even if the worker did not find out she was being paid less until much later. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented saying that you could interpret the law to run from the date of any paycheck that contains an amount affected by a prior discriminatory pay decision and in 2009, the Civil Rights Act was amended so that the 180-day period starts anew with each paycheck.
Seven years later on the anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Act, President Obama took additional steps to further equal pay for all workers. Despite great strides in skills and experience, women still earn only 78% of what men earn. This number has not changed since 2001 and the U.S. gender pay gap is currently larger than that of many other industrialized nations. The current administration has taken action designed to level the playing field and ensure fair pay for all.
- One action is that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) along with the Department of Labor will collect annual summary pay data from business with over 100 employees. This will provide data on 63 million employees. This information will help enforcement of equal pay laws and provide insight into discriminatory pay practices by industry and occupation. “We can't deliver on the promise of equal pay unless we have the best, most comprehensive information about what people earn," said Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "We expect that reporting this data will help employers to evaluate their own pay practices to prevent pay discrimination in their workplaces. The data collection also gives the Labor Department a more powerful tool to do its enforcement work, to ensure that federal contractors comply with fair pay laws and to root out discrimination where it does exist."
- The second action calls upon Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. This act would give women additional tools with which to fight discrimination. Several states, including California and New York, passed their own equal pay laws.
- The Council of Economic Advisers released an issue brief on the Gender Pay Gap. The brief highlights the fact that the U.S. gender wage gap is now 2.5 percentage points larger than the average for industrialized countries. It also points to significant progress made since 2000 by the United Kingdom to reduce their pay gap by almost 9 percentage points and by Japan, Belgium, Ireland, and Denmark to reduce each of theirs by around 7 percentage points.
- One final action is the 2016 White House Summit. The White House along with the Department of State, the Department of Labor, the Aspen Institute and Civic Nation will host “The United States of Women” on May 23rd. The summit, which comes two years after the first White House Summit on Working Families. It is an opportunity to note the progress made on behalf of women and girls domestically and internationally through the Obama administration and to talk about solutions to the challenges they still face.
If you have any question about your salary relative to that of your coworkers and what your option are, please contact us to schedule a consultation.