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Letter to the Senate urging support for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act

January 12, 2009

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator 

On behalf of the National Education Association’s (NEA) 3.2 million members, we urge you to VOTE YES on two pieces of legislation designed to address issues of pay equity – the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act.  These important bills could be up for votes on the Senate floor this week.  Votes associated with these bills may be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 111th Congress. ;

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which passed overwhelmingly in the House last year, reaffirms civil rights threatened by a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Ledbetter v. Goodyear.  Specifically, the Court ruled that, contrary to previous legal practice, a victim of pay discrimination must file a claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act within 180 days of the initial discriminatory pay decision.  But in reality, this is almost impossible - because many employers discourage their employees from discussing wages, women are often unaware of a pay discrepancy for months or even years after it begins.  The Ledbetter Act would clarify that employees may file suit up to 180 days after they are issued their last discriminatory paycheck - a much more reasonable time frame.  Because the Senate failed to act on the Lilly Ledbetter Act last year, it was never enacted into law and must be voted on again in the House. 

The Paycheck Fairness Act would update and strengthen the landmark Equal Pay Act signed into law by President Kennedy in 1963.  Among other provisions, it would prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who share salary information with their coworkers and hold gender-based discrimination to the same standard as discrimination on the basis of race and ethnicity.

NEA is particularly sensitive to issues of fair pair, given that nearly 70 percent of our membership is female.  Fair pay is critical to women's economic security, particularly in the current economic crisis.  In 2007, women made 78 cents to the man's dollar.  And, according to a new report by the Center for American Progress Action fund, the average woman stands to lose $434,000 in her lifetime because of pay discrimination. 

We urge you to help address these critical pay equity issues by supporting both the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act.


Diane Shust , Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody, Manager of Federal Advocacy