Statement of Deborah J. Vagins, Director of Equal Pay Today with Equal Rights Advocates on the Anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and New White House Pay Equity Policy Announcement
January 29. 2024
For Immediate Release
Jan 29, 2024
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 29, 2024
Today, the White House announced its final rule prohibiting Federal agencies from considering a candidate’s salary history as a factor in setting pay for new Federal civilian employees. Equal Pay Today, a project of Equal Rights Advocates organized and submitted comments in support of this rule and has been long advocating for such transparency in wages.
This announcement comes on the 15th anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and is a fitting next step in the fight for equal pay.
Lilly Ledbetter served as a manager at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. plant in Gadsden, Alabama, for over nineteen years. After she was slipped an anonymous note, she learned that she had been paid significantly less than her three male colleagues over the course of her career. Ms. Ledbetter filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission.
In 2007, Ms. Ledbetter’s lawsuit ended with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Ledbetter v. Goodyear, which overturned her original jury award of over 3 million dollars. Ignoring the egregious facts in the case, five justices said employees had to file a complaint within six months of an employer’s first decision to discriminate, whether the employee knows about the discrimination or not.
In dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that the ruling made no sense in the real world. Such an absurd decision needed a Congressional response. With the support of advocates nationwide and champions in Congress, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Ac – the first law signed by President Obama – as enacted. This law restored the law and make clear that workers can challenge every discriminatory paycheck.
The law was such an important victory for workers and gave employees who were experiencing ongoing pay discrimination their day in court. However, the law did not give women new tools to combat the wage gap itself.
As announced in Equal Pay Today’s 2023-2024 Policy Agenda, we continue to fight for the state and federal fair pay legislation, like the federal Paycheck Fairness Act, which would provide new tools for workers to get at the causes and impact of pay discrimination. Equal Pay Today has also urged the Administration to take actions that can apply to federal workers and federal contractors, which would provide progress on pay equity for millions of these employees. Today, the Biden Administration announced its final a rule banning the use of salary history when setting wages for federal employees. This is an important step forward because for women and workers of color, if their prior wages have been tainted by discrimination, new salaries can carry forward discrimination in setting new wages based on old pay. We also are continuing to urge the Administration to move forward on a similar rule banning the use of salary history for federal contractors. This would be critical as many private employers also have federal contracts and millions of employees would be protected.
“On behalf of Equal Pay Today, I am thrilled that the Biden Administration has finalized this rule, which will prevent Federal agencies from considering a candidate’s salary history as a factor in setting pay for new Federal civilian employees. We were please to advocate our membership in support of this rule. While we continue to fight for the day this is the case for all employees nationwide, but we are grateful to the Administration for advancing commonsense protections that can blunt the impact of having prior discrimination infect the pay for its workforce. This is such a fitting announcement to make on the 15th anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. We commend the Administration for continuing to fulfill the legacy of Ms. Ledbetter in her persistent fight for fair pay for all,” said Deborah J. Vagins, Director of Equal Pay Today, Equal Rights Advocates.
About Equal Pay Today:
The mission of Equal Pay Today, a project at Equal Rights Advocates, is to eradicate the long-standing gender wage gap impacting the economic security of women, families, and communities of color. Through strategies involving policy reform, litigation, education and outreach, EPT’s innovative collaboration of national, regional, and state-based women’s legal advocacy, worker justice groups, and social justice organizations are changing conversations about equal pay at every opportunity.