Thursday, May 31, 2007

Equal Pay for Equal Work is good law--Make it enforceable!

I've been sitting shocked on the sidelines this week, digesting the 5-4 Supreme Court decision that set a 180 day time limit for employees to sue for pay discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

I was somewhat encouraged by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's dissenting opinion, but also very discouraged by not only the majority decision, but the realization that Bader Ginsburg is the only woman on the court now.

Read more about it: CNN Money, New York Times

Today I am glad to report that MomsRising.org has initiated an action step we can all take, sending a petition to tell Congress, "We Need Equal Pay for Equal Work--it is good law, make it enforceable!" This issue is key to protecting the fair employment of women everywhere. Please join me in signing this petition. As individuals it's easy to feel depressed and powerless. As a collective voice we can't be ignored. MomsRising.org has grown to over 100,000 members in its first year and our goal is to be millions strong by the 2008 election.

MomsRising.org e-outreach for May 31:

The Supreme Court just delivered a huge blow to the fight for equal pay for equal work. It told Lilly Ledbetter, a 60-year old "fiery mother of two," that even though, for years, she was paid between 15% and 40% less than her male counterparts on the management team (a fact she learned late in her 19 year career), she could not make a claim of workplace discrimination. Why couldn't she make a claim? Lily Ledbetter learned about the pay discrepancies too late. The court ruled that claims must be made within 180 days after the pay is set. But how many of us know what our co-workers make? In fact, it's illegal to ask in many states.

Justice Ruth Ginsburg wrote the dissenting opinion for the 5-to-4 decision, and in it she asked Congress to overturn the ruling and clarify the intent of the law. Several Congressional leaders are already stepping forward to counter this outrage by drafting new fair-minded legislation. Let's get behind them so they can pass this legislation immediately.

Tell Congress, "We Need Equal Pay for Equal Work--it is good law, make it enforceable!"

Sign the petition and then pass it on to friends so we can build support for the Congressional leaders who are stepping forward to right this wrong. Frankly, they need our help--because as the Washington Post reports, business groups, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, are applauding this dangerous, short-sighted ruling.

CITIZEN VOICES ARE CRUCIAL: Citizen voices are going to be crucial to giving leaders the "political capital" they require to fix this problem. Here's what several of the key leaders who are fighting for us have to say about the ruling:

"Yesterday's Supreme Court decision reflects a poor understanding of the real problems with long-term pay discrimination," said Senator Harkin. "Most new employees feel less comfortable challenging their salaries, and it is very difficult to determine when pay discrimination begins. Furthermore, a small pay gap tends to widen over time, only becoming noticeable when there is systemic discrimination over a period of years. I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues to ensure every worker receives the paycheck he or she deserves."

"Unless Congress Acts, this Supreme Court ruling will have far-reaching implications for women, and will gravely limit the rights of employees who have suffered pay discrimination based on their race, sex, religion or national origin. All Americans deserve equal pay for equal work and it is our responsibility to get this right," said Senator Clinton.

"This week's Supreme Court decision sends a dangerous message about the value of pay equity in this country. It is unacceptable that women and others would be limited in their opportunities to stand up for themselves and for their families. I am proud to team up with my colleagues to right this wrong," said Senator Mikulski.

"As Justice Ginsburg suggests, the ball has now fallen into Congress' court and we intend to address this ruling," said Representative George Miller (D-CA), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee. "The Supreme Court's narrow decision makes it more difficult for workers to stand up for their basic civil rights at work and that is unacceptable."

*Don't forget to sign the petition and pass it along to friends and family as well. Let's support the Congressional leaders who are coming forward to right this wrong.

Best - The MomsRising Team

p.s. Have you experienced workplace discrimination? What happened? Share your story and experiences with all and/or email us at: Moms@momsrising.org

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