Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–January 29, 2016
By: Lilly Ledbetter – HFA Blog
My story paved the way for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Together we can fulfill its promise.
When I became an overnight shift manager at the Goodyear plant in 1979, there weren’t many women on the job (and the few that didn’t stay long). But I worked my way up, and in 1996, I even received the plant’s “top performance award.”
It wasn’t until 19 years after I’d started that I learned I was being paid less than my male colleagues.
One evening, I came into work early, checked my mail, and there it was: an anonymous note that listed my salary and the salaries of three men with the same title. I was being paid significantly less for the same job—less than I deserved and less than my family needed.
The easiest thing to do would have been to let it go. But that’s not who I am.
I took my case all the way to the Supreme Court. But they ruled that, though I had clearly been discriminated against, I had filed my case too late to be compensated.
Luckily, we live in a country where, when the laws are wrong, we can do something about it.
Seven years ago today, President Obama signed his first bill into law: the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which makes it easier to challenge wage discrimination in court. It was an important step toward equal pay for women, and an important victory for the increasing number of American households where women are the primary breadwinner. Under this law, no one else will ever have to accept the gender discrimination I faced without the chance to challenge it in court.
But this isn’t just my story. It’s the story of women working full time across this country who, despite new protections, are on average still earning just 78 cents for every dollar a man earns—with women of color often being shortchanged even more. That’s money their families are losing out on.
Our next president can either build on the progress we’ve made and go even further—or dismiss this important issue. Women across this country need more than rhetoric; they need action—they need a fighter in the White House.
I firmly believe Hillary Clinton will be that fighter.
Hillary has spent decades fighting to advance women’s rights and economic opportunities. We fought side by side to pass the Lilly Ledbetter Act, which she co-sponsored in the United States Senate, and she has been a tireless champion for the Paycheck Fairness Act—legislation that would go even further to address the pay gap. And she’s put issues like equal pay, affordable child care, paid leave, and reproductive rights front and center in her campaign.
Hillary understands that these issues can’t be dismissed or pushed to the sidelines. They’re not just “social issues”—they’re fundamental to our country’s economic future, and they are at the heart of everything she’s fighting for on this campaign. For Hillary, this is about more than politics—it’s personal. She just gets it, plain and simple.
Of all the candidates in this race, she is the one we can count on to be a fierce and uncompromising champion for women, for basic fairness, and for opportunity for everyone. She’s not just a steadfast supporter of issues that affect women’s lives; she’s someone who has been there. She doesn’t just say the right things; she does the right things. And when it comes to finally closing the gender pay gap once and for all, that will make a world of difference.
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