Regardless of Opinion L.A. guest blogger Charlotte Allen's ridiculously inflammatory contention that "Despite its cute graphic, Paycheck Fairness Act was evil spawn of Lilly Ledbetter," the facts remain discouraging for women when it comes to equal pay.
According to data from the
This year will be the worst for income disparity in U.S. history, likely only to be bested by 2015. This comes at a bad time: Increasingly, low- to moderate-income families in America must rely on women's income and benefits to make ends meet.
Wage disparity -- which exists in every state and in nearly every occupation -- is, in the end, not a women's rights issue but a family issue. Nevertheless, this month, the Paycheck Fairness Act died, almost exclusively because of Republican politicians -- many of them conservatives who campaigned and won on platforms that included strong family values.
Those conservatives had pundits like Allen to provide a faulty intellectual foundation. The following statement by her was a particularly egregious one that belies a total misunderstanding of Lilly Ledbetter and the legislation bearing her name: "The Lilly Ledbetter Act added nothing to the right of women to be paid on an equal basis with men. It merely gave women who were too lazy to sue promptly -- or who wanted to wait until they had retired to sue -- a second shot."
I spent two years of my life with Ledbetter coauthoring her autobiography. Call her what you may, but one thing you can't imply about her is that she's lazy.
Formerly a supervisor with the
As far as the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act is concerned, the keyword here is "restoration." The legislation restored the paycheck accrual rule under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to its original intent, defining the starting point for discriminatory behavior as the last discriminatory paycheck. In other words, each new paycheck is a new starting point for the discriminatory act, which allows women the ability to pursue their equal pay claims even if they were prevented from learning about pay discrimination until long after the original discriminatory pay decision was made.
Trickery and manipulation can only flourish in environments where full disclosure about what people are making doesn't exist. That's what the executive order President
Who's to blame for the failure of the Paycheck Fairness Act to pass? Regardless of the administration's silly retro graphic or Allen's conspiracy theory that Ledbetter and the legislation are pawns of Obama's campaign machine, the answer is fairly simple: The act died thanks to those who voted against it and the politically charged rhetoric (like Allen's "evil spawn" invective) that drowned out a more civil discourse about the wage gap.
Unfortunately, the 23-cent wage gap has remained intact over the years, a troubling fact for a modern economy in which more women are entering the workforce and families increasingly depend on women's wages to survive. According to the
Lilly Ledbetter is not Obama's poster child to secure the female vote; far from it. She is a real person who overcame unimaginable obstacles in the workplace. A tireless advocate for pay equity, Lilly Ledbetter is a woman who continues to work toward the passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act -- and for the day when women are no longer kept silent about their true worth.