The House passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007 this afternoon by a vote of 225-199, restoring and clarifying discrimination protections in the Civil Rights Act. Speaker Pelosi released the following statement upon passage:
The New Direction Congress achieved a crucial victory today for justice and equality with the passage of the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. This legislation corrects a recent Supreme Court decision that severely restricted the right of workers to have their day in court when their employers have engaged in pay discrimination.
The Supreme Court's decision ignored the reality that most workers do not discuss their paychecks with their colleagues, which makes it extremely difficult for employees to know if they have been the victim of pay discrimination. By rectifying the Court's decision, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act restores balance in the law and allows victims of wage discrimination to seek justice in the courts.
Lily Ledbetter was a victim of gender discrimination in the workplace and in her paycheck. Women, indeed all workers subject to pay discrimination, need all resources available, especially the protections of civil rights law, to ensure their right to fair pay.
Today, women earn only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. And women earn less than men in nearly every occupation. The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act restores the ability of women and all workers who are protected by anti-discrimination and civil rights laws access to our judicial system to vindicate their rights when they have been harmed by discrimination.
Equal pay for equal work is a fundamental value. The President should join the House on the side of all American workers in standing for pay equity and against discrimination.
Rep. Lois Capps, Chair of the Democratic Women's Working Group, and an original cosponsor of the bill, said:
I am proud that the House has taken quick action to address this Supreme Court decision and restore much needed protections to employees' civil rights. The Supreme Court's decision in the Ledbetter case was a setback for civil rights for all employees. It was a powerful reminder that while women and minorities have made great strides in achieving equal status in our society, there is still work to be done to ensure that all employees are treated fairly in the workplace. This legislation provides employees who have been discriminated against with the tools to seek recourse against discriminatory employers within a reasonable amount of time. Passing this bill today helps restore employees' confidence that pay discrimination by employers will not go unchecked and it provides a strong incentive for employers to discourage discriminatory pay practices in the workplace.