On Equal Pay Day, Rep. Schiff Says More Needs to be Done to Close the Wage Gap between Women and Men

Washington, DCYesterday, as the nation observed Equal Pay Day, which marks how many additional days into the year a woman must work, on average, to earn as much as a man earned during the previous year, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said more needs to be done to close the wage gap that still exists between women and men.

“Forty-seven years have passed since President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law in 1963,” Rep. Schiff said. “Yet in many cases, the wage gap persists between women and men, as there is still not equal pay for equal work in our country. In this great nation, it should not be that way.”

When the Equal Pay Act was signed into law in 1963, women who worked full-time year-round made an average of 59 cents for every dollar earned by men. In 2008, women earned 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. While progress has been made, the wage gap has only been narrowed by less than half a cent per year.

To achieve equal pay for women, Rep. Schiff voted in favor of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the first major bill signed into law by President Obama. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act restores the right of women and other workers to challenge unfair pay in court. Specifically, it rectifies the May 2007, Ledbetter v. Goodyear Supreme Court decision that overturned precedent and made it much more difficult for workers to pursue pay discrimination claims. The bill protects women and other workers by restoring the longstanding interpretation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and other discrimination statutes.

“The passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Act was a major victory for women in America,” Rep. Schiff said. “To truly achieve pay equity, the Senate should pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which the House passed in January 2009, and send it to the President to become law.”

The Paycheck Fairness Act would give teeth to the Equal Pay Act of 1963. It would close numerous loopholes in the Equal Pay Act and stiffen penalties for those who discriminate based on gender. Additionally, it would create initiatives to provide negotiation skills training programs for girls and women.

“Gender-based pay discrimination remains a serious issue,” Rep. Schiff said. “On this Equal Pay Day 2010, let us all recognize the need to strengthen our families and ensure fairness in the workplace. Together, we can achieve an America where women receive equal pay for equal work.”