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Monday, August 25, 2008

Flying with Lilly Ledbetter

On April 23, 2008, The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007 failed a procedural vote in the Senate which required a 60 vote majority. Fifty-six voted yea, 42 voted nay. Interestingly both the presidential candidates voted. Senator Obama voted yea and Senator McCain voted nay. This act amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other anti-discrimination laws to clarify at which points in time discriminatory actions qualify as an “unlawful employment practice.”

Do you know Lilly Ledbetter? She worked at Goodyear for 19 years and discovered that she was paid less than every single one of her male counterparts. She took her fight to court and won. A jury agreed that she had been paid unfairly, and awarded her $223,776 in back pay, and over $3 million in punitive damages, but a judge cut that to only $300,000 because of a 1991 law that limited a company's liability for damages — even when found guilty of willful wage discrimination. Lilly did not get the money because the Supreme Court ruled that she had to sue within 180 days of the company’s discriminatory paycheck. She had waited too long to sue!

Moving on to the Fair Paycheck Act. It passed on July 31, 2008. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro wrote: "With this resolution, we take up an effort that began more than 150 years ago when visionary women came together to stand up for women's rights, to better the status of women in our society..The wage gap is real... Over the course of her lifetime, a female high school graduate will make $700,000 less than the young man she graduates with. Compared to a man, a female college graduate stands to lose up to $2 million in the course of her career. This is true across the board". This act increases the filing time from 180 days to two years! It is too late for Lilly, but it will certainly benefit others.

There are many women who have flown before us and many more who are flying with us. Make sure that you use your right to vote to continue the flights. You never know when someone else's flight might just be in your best interest! Lilly's diligence is a perfect example.

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