Equal Pay Day 2007

Equal Pay Day– April 24, 2007
Women Lose Millions Due to Wage Gap, NOW Calls for Passage of Pay Equity Legislation
April 24, 2007

Today the National Organization for Women and our allies are calling attention to the persistent wage gap between women and men by observing Equal Pay Day. This year we pause on April 24—symbolizing the day that women workers finally “get out of the red” and their 2006-2007 earnings finally equal men’s earnings from last year alone.

Why do women have to work an extra 114 days to keep pace with men? Because full-time women workers are paid an average of 77 cents for every dollar men are paid. Women of color are short-changed even more, with African-American women paid only 71 cents and Latinas just 58 cents on men’s dollar.

On a yearly basis, the wage gap is alarming. But when you at look at it over the long haul, it is downright criminal,” said NOW President Kim Gandy. “The average woman is losing, at minimum, hundreds of thousands of dollars in wages during her lifetime, and it starts earlier than you think.”

According to a new study from the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation, the wage gap affects college graduates too. The disparities kick in shortly after college graduation, when women and men would seem to be on a level playing field. The report, Behind the Pay Gap, reveals that one year after graduating college, women are earning only 80 percent of their male counterparts’ wages. Over the next 10 years, women’s wages fall further behind, dropping to only 69 percent of men’s earnings.

The AAUW report states that “even after controlling for hours, occupation, parenthood, and other factors known to affect earnings, the research indicates that one-quarter of the pay gap remains unexplained and is likely due to sex discrimination.” The WAGE Project estimates that over 35 years of work, a female high school graduate will make $700,000 less than a male high school grad, and a woman with a college degree will lose $1.2 million compared to a degreed man. The higher the degree, the greater the loss.

“The wage gap affects every woman, from the day she enters the workforce straight through to her retirement,” said Gandy. “Day-to-day, women struggle to make ends meet and provide for their families. It hurts their ability to save for a home, for medical emergencies or for retirement. Beyond the dollars and cents, we simply can’t quantify the opportunities and potential unrealized due to this injustice.”

That’s why NOW is supporting the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 766 and H.R. 1338) introduced last month by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), which aims to reduce the pay gap by enhancing enforcement of the Equal Pay Act, training enforcement officials, and permitting employees to share salary information with co-workers without punishment.

NOW also supports the Fair Pay Act, sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), which would prohibit discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex, race or national origin, and would require equal pay for jobs that are comparable in skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions.

“We need this legislation now more than ever,” said Gandy. “The Bush administration is intent on dismantling the Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau. They would like to stop collecting data on women workers altogether, rather than following the law and paying women what they’re worth.”


For Immediate Release
Contact: Mai Shiozaki, 202-628-8669, ext. 116; cell 202-641-1906

From Momsrising.com- 04/24/07

The Supreme Court just delivered a huge blow to the fight for equal pay for equal work.  It told Lilly Ledbetter, a 60-year old “fiery mother of two,” that even though, for years, she was paid between 15% and 40% less than her male counterparts on the management team (a fact she learned late in her 19 year career), she could not make a claim of workplace discrimination.  Why couldn’t she make a claim?  Lily Ledbetter learned about the pay discrepancies too late. The court ruled that claims must be made within 180 days after the pay is set.   But how many of us know what our co-workers make? In fact, it’s illegal to ask in many states.

Justice Ruth Ginsburg wrote the dissenting opinion for the 5-to-4 decision, and in it she asked Congress to overturn the ruling and clarify the intent of the law.  Several Congressional leaders are already stepping forward to counter this outrage by drafting new fair-minded legislation.  Let’s get behind them so they can pass this legislation immediately.  

CITIZEN VOICES ARE CRUCIAL: Citizen voices are going to be crucial to giving leaders the “political capital” they require to fix this problem.  Here’s what several of the key leaders who are fighting for us have to say about the ruling:

“Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision reflects a poor understanding of the real problems with long-term pay discrimination,” said Senator Harkin. “Most new employees feel less comfortable challenging their salaries, and it is very difficult to determine when pay discrimination begins.  Furthermore, a small pay gap tends to widen over time, only becoming noticeable when there is systemic discrimination over a period of years. I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues to ensure every worker receives the paycheck he or she deserves.”
“Unless Congress Acts, this Supreme Court ruling will have far-reaching implications for women, and will gravely limit the rights of employees who have suffered pay discrimination based on their race, sex, religion or national origin. All Americans deserve equal pay for equal work and it is our responsibility to get this right,” said Senator Clinton.
“This week’s Supreme Court decision sends a dangerous message about the value of pay equity in this country.  It is unacceptable that women and others would be limited in their opportunities to stand up for themselves and for their families.  I am proud to team up with my colleagues to right this wrong,” said Senator Mikulski.
“As Justice Ginsburg suggests, the ball has now fallen into Congress’ court and we intend to address this ruling,” said Representative George Miller (D-CA), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee.  “The Supreme Court’s narrow decision makes it more difficult for workers to stand up for their basic civil rights at work and that is unacceptable.”

Best – The MomsRising Team

p.p.s.  Want to read more about it?  Here are some good articles:

– Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/29/AR2007052900740_2.html?hpid=topnews

– CNN Money: http://money.cnn.com/2007/05/30/news/economy/pay.court.fortune/?postversion=2007053014

– New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/30/washington/30scotus.html?ei=5070&en=1294cb12e89e8de5&ex=1181275200&adxnnl=1&emc=eta1&adxnnlx=1180616460-kYG7B4yqGfsywiTIkSreZA

Supreme Court Moves Backward on Equal Pay

By Liz Gilchrist

May 30, 2007

The Roberts court strikes again. Tuesday’s Supreme Court decision in the case of Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. dealt a near-fatal blow to our ability to use Title VII of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 to remedy pay discrimination based on sex, race, national origin, and other protected grounds.

In a 5-4 decision that turns our understanding of employment discrimination on its head, the Court ruled that a Title VII complaint must be filed within 180 days of the specific action that sets discriminatory pay, regardless of its ongoing and continuing discriminatory impact on the employee. As a result, many victims of pay discrimination will be left without an effective remedy, even though their rights have been violated.

Justice Samuel Alito’s decision was joined predictably by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Scalia, Thomas and Kennedy. Their majority opinion ignores the realities of the workplace where disparities in pay are often undiscovered or difficult to determine, especially since so many employers keep salary and pay information confidential.

Pay discrimination is often incremental and subtle, as was the case with Lilly Ledbetter, who did receive raises over the course of her 19-year career with Goodyear, but each raise was substantially lower than that of her male counterparts. The cumulative effects of her disparate treatment grew until she was being paid 15%-25% less than her male colleagues, even those with far less experience.

Justice Alito’s cramped and narrow interpretation of Title VII is directly contrary to the law’s broad remedial purpose of protecting working women and men from discrimination in employment. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg pointed out in her forceful and eloquent dissenting opinion, “the Court … is totally at odds with the robust protection against workplace discrimination Congress intended Title VII to secure.”

Worse yet, despite his repeated avowal of respect for Supreme Court precedent during his confirmation hearings in the Senate just last year, Justice Alito so narrowly restricted the scope of existing pay discrimination precedent in this case as to render it useless for most litigants. Ledbetter‘s majority opinion effectively overturns 20 years of federal court cases and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission rulings which had consistently ruled that a prohibited act of discrimination occurs each time a woman receives a paycheck that is less than a similarly situated man.

Although it has been rarely commented on, the jury that heard all the facts had awarded Ledbetter three million dollars in damages, but the trial judge cut that amount to only $360,000 because of a limitation that was inserted in the Civil Rights Act of 1991, during the first Bush administration, which put a cap on damages for sex discrimination, regardless of the facts.

Every senator who did not act to prevent Justice Alito’s confirmation to the Supreme Court bears some responsibility for this reprehensible roll-back of our ability to get fair treatment in the workplace and in the courts. Replacing Justice Sandra Day O’Connor with Samuel Alito shifted the balance on the court, and women will be paying the price for a long time.

Justices’ Ruling Limits Suits on Pay Disparity – New York Times‎- May 30, 2007

The decision came in a case involving a supervisor at a Goodyear Tire plant in Gadsden, Ala., the only woman among 16 men at the same management level, who was paid less than any of her colleagues, including those with less seniority. She learned that fact late in a career of nearly 20 years — too late, according to the Supreme Court’s majority.

The court held on Tuesday that employees may not bring suit under the principal federal anti-discrimination law unless they have filed a formal complaint with a federal agency within 180 days after their pay was set. The timeline applies, according to the decision, even if the effects of the initial discriminatory act were not immediately apparent to the worker and even if they continue to the present day.

From 2001 to 2006, workers brought nearly 40,000 pay discrimination cases. Many such cases are likely to be barred by the court’s interpretation of the requirement in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that employees make their charge within 180 days “after the alleged unlawful employment practice occurred.”

Workplace experts said the ruling would have broad ramifications and would narrow the legal options of many employees.

In an opinion by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., the majority rejected the view of the federal agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, that each paycheck that reflects the initial discrimination is itself a discriminatory act that resets the clock on the 180-day period, under a rule known as “paycheck accrual.”

“Current effects alone cannot breathe life into prior, uncharged discrimination,” Justice Alito said in an opinion joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy and Clarence Thomas. Justice Thomas once headed the employment commission, the chief enforcer of workers’ rights under the statute at issue in this case, usually referred to simply as Title VII.

Under its longstanding interpretation of the statute, the commission actively supported the plaintiff, Lilly M. Ledbetter, in the lower courts. But after the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case last June, the Bush administration disavowed the agency’s position and filed a brief on the side of the employer.

In a vigorous dissenting opinion that she read from the bench, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the majority opinion “overlooks common characteristics of pay discrimination.” She said that given the secrecy in most workplaces about salaries, many employees would have no idea within 180 days that they had received a lower raise than others.

An initial disparity, even if known to the employee, might be small, Justice Ginsburg said, leading an employee, particularly a woman or a member of a minority group “trying to succeed in a nontraditional environment” to avoid “making waves.” Justice Ginsburg noted that even a small differential “will expand exponentially over an employee’s working life if raises are set as a percentage of prior pay.”

Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter and Stephen G. Breyer joined the dissent.

Ms. Ledbetter’s salary was initially the same as that of her male colleagues. But over time, as she received smaller raises, a substantial disparity grew. By the time she brought suit in 1998, her salary fell short by as much as 40 percent; she was making $3,727 a month, while the lowest-paid man was making $4,286.

A jury in Federal District Court in Birmingham, Ala., awarded her more than $3 million in back pay and compensatory and punitive damages, which the trial judge reduced to $360,000. But the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, erased the verdict entirely, ruling that because Ms. Ledbetter could not show that she was the victim of intentional discrimination during the 180 days before she filed her complaint, she had not suffered an “unlawful employment practice” to which Title VII applied.

Several other federal appeals courts had accepted the employment commission’s more relaxed view of the 180-day requirement. The justices accepted Ms. Ledbetter’s appeal, Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, No. 05-1074, to resolve the conflict.

Title VII’s prohibition of workplace discrimination applies not just to pay but also to specific actions like refusal to hire or promote, denial of a desired transfer and dismissal. Justice Ginsburg argued in her dissenting opinion that while these “singular discrete acts” are readily apparent to an employee who can then make a timely complaint, pay discrimination often presents a more ambiguous picture. She said the court should treat a pay claim as it treated a claim for a “hostile work environment” in a 2002 decision, permitting a charge to be filed “based on the cumulative effect of individual acts.”

In response, Justice Alito dismissed this as a “policy argument” with “no support in the statute.”

As with an abortion ruling last month, this decision showed the impact of Justice Alito’s presence on the court. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, whom he succeeded, would almost certainly have voted the other way, bringing the opposite outcome.

The impact of the decision on women may be somewhat limited by the availability of another federal law against sex discrimination in the workplace, the Equal Pay Act, which does not contain the 180-day requirement. Ms. Ledbetter initially included an Equal Pay Act complaint, but did not pursue it. That law has additional procedural hurdles and a low damage cap that excludes punitive damages. It does not cover discrimination on the basis of race or Title VII’s other protected categories.

In her opinion, Justice Ginsburg invited Congress to overturn the decision, as it did 15 years ago with a series of Supreme Court rulings on civil rights. “Once again, the ball is in Congress’s court,” she said. Within hours, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, who is seeking the Democratic nomination, announced her intention to submit such a bill.

Pay ruling ignores the real world
Most employees would have trouble telling – let alone proving – they’re not being fairly compensated. So why did the Supreme Court decide to give them only six months to file a pay discrimination complaint?
By Anne Fisher, Fortune senior writer
May 31 2007: 3:03 PM EDT

(Fortune) — How long have you been in your current job? Six months? Less than six months? How about six years, or 16? It hardly matters: In any case, you probably have only the foggiest notion (if any) of what your colleagues earn, or how big their last raise was.

If you’re a woman, it’s unlikely you know for sure whether your pay is commensurate with male peers in the same job. Employers encourage a “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach to the subject that usually prevents people from guessing – let alone being able to prove with hard evidence – if they’re being fairly compensated. And new employees in particular are often so relieved to have been hired that they’re the last ones who are going to ask awkward questions.

So how much sense does it make to decide, as the U.S. Supreme Court did Tuesday in a 5-4 ruling, that employees who want to take legal action against a discriminatory employer must file a formal complaint with a federal agency within 180 days of that employer’s explicit offense (i.e. either hiring a woman for less pay than a man or giving her a smaller raise because she’s female)? In too many instances, it takes far longer than that for an employee to realize what’s going on.

That was what happened to Lilly Ledbetter, on whose case the highest U.S. court ruled yesterday. Ledbetter was a supervisor at a Goodyear Tire plant in Gadsden, Ala., and the only woman among 17 managers at the same level. Although she was hired at the same pay as her peers, she received smaller raises than theirs over a 20-year period. By the time she realized it, in 1998, her salary fell short of male supervisors’ by 40%. She was earning $3,727 a month, while the lowest-paid man in her position made $4,286.

Under the Supreme Court’s new ruling, systematically paying someone less on the basis of sex would be perfectly fine under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – as long as she doesn’t figure it out within six months. After that, she can’t sue on that basis. (Although she might be able to file under the Equal Pay Act, which doesn’t have the 180-day deadline, that law has other requirements and doesn’t allow punitive damages.) This is just dandy for employers who make a habit of paying women less than men in the same job, but it’s an interpretation that surely undermines the spirit of Title VII if not its letter.

Worse, it ignores workplace reality. The majority opinion “overlooks common characteristics of pay discrimination,” Ruth Bader Ginsburg – the court’s only woman – wrote in her dissent, which she read from the bench. A single pay raise that is smaller than colleagues get, even if a woman knows it’s smaller, may not seem worth “making waves” over, particularly if the woman – or, for that matter, member of a racial minority – is “trying to succeed in a nontraditional environment.”

But, Justice Ginsburg noted, over the course of a whole career, even a small disparity in pay “will expand exponentially…if raises are set as a percent of prior pay.” That robs women, or anyone else who is systematically and deliberately paid less for the same work, not just of many thousands of dollars in direct earnings, but of benefits like pensions that are linked to pay as well.

In her opinion, Ginsburg called on Congress to step up and overturn the Supreme Court’s decision, as it did in the early ’90s with a series of the court’s rulings on civil rights. Hillary Clinton, perhaps hoping to win women voters’ support, has said she’ll lead the fight. Here’s hoping that’s more than just a campaign promise.

What do you think of the Supreme Court ruling? Post your thoughts on the Ask Annie blog. Top of page

Realities of a Gender Pay Gap
Despite Improvements, Women Still Lag Behind Men in Earning Capacity


April 28, 2007 —

Evelyn Murphy travels the country teaching women how to get paid as much as men.

The former lieutenant governor of Massachusetts said when she started working 40 years ago, women earned 59 cents on the dollar and they were told they lacked the education and experience men brought to the job.

“All that meritocracy stuff, that’s gone,” she now counsels young women. “If this were about merit, there shouldn’t be any wage gap.”

Murphy repeats this mantra again and again as president of the WAGE (Women Are Getting Even) Project, a national organization that aims to end wage discrimination against working women. The club holds meetings in roughly 200 locations around the country and the women who come to hear Murphy speak are both shocked and motivated by her message.

“I definitely was surprised,” said Rinn Self, a 28-year-old student of conflict resolution. “Growing up with a woman studies major mom, I definitely had assumed things were getting better&so it was shocking to hear that things have stayed the same for the past, like, 20 years.”

Progress toward pay parity has been painfully slow despite women’s enormous gains.

Last year women earned 58 percent of the nation’s college degrees. And they graduate from law, business and medical school in almost equal number to men.

“I’m very frustrated at where things stand,” Murphy said.

Women also clearly pay a price for interrupting their careers — even briefly — to have children.

One economist recently calculated the cost of the “Motherhood Penalty” at 7 percent per child.

But the wage gap between men and women starts long before a woman has children. Surprisingly, it often starts right out of college with the very first job.

“Even from the first day of work there’s inequity,” said Linda Babcock, an economics professor at Carnegie Mellon University.

A new study by the American Association of University Women blames much of this inequity on discrimination. But Babcock, author of a book called “Women Don’t Ask,” said her research shows a prime reason women out of college earn just 95 cents for every dollar earned by a man is that they are far less likely to negotiate their pay.

“Very simply, women don’t negotiate as much as men,” Babcock said.

Take the case of two graduating seniors at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Both are finance majors with good grades and job offers in management consulting. But the man negotiated while the woman did not.

“I wanted a little bit more so I went out and got it,” said Sandip Gupta. Imee Chan simply accepted what she was offered.

“I just thought this was what they’re going to give me,” she said. “I wish I’d asked, I really do now.”

Babcock said women are socialized from an early age to accept what they get. “We really teach our girls to be very passive and we teach our boys to go out there and be aggressive,” she said.

Whatever the reasons, the pay gap exacts a heavy price on women over the course of a lifetime. According to the WAGE Project, a college-educated working woman will earn $1.2 million less over the course of her career than a college-educated working man.

Murphy tells young women that she wants that fact to “haunt” them. “Because then you’re going to do something about it,” she said.

For now, this graduating class of women will leave the starting gate — already behind.

Copyright © 2007 ABC News Internet Ventures

Search the following websites for more information.  Be prepared and informed. 

1.  National Committee on Pay Equity
2.  Business and Professional Women USA
     Search for “pay equity”
3.  American Association of University Women
     Search for “Equal Pay Day”
The National Association of Female Executives (NAFE) has their 2005 Salary Survey (11/05) on their website at http://www.nafe.com.  “The survey collects data on average salaries for women and men from federal agencies and private trade and consulting firms to report on the gender gap in selected positions in 20 different industries.”

BPW/USA Supports Introduction of the Paycheck Fairness Act
Legislation Needed to Strengthen Remedies for the Wage Gap
Washington, DC, March 6, 2007–
Business and Professional Women/USA (BPW/USA) applauds Senator Clinton (D-NY) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) for reintroducing the Paycheck Fairness Act today. Both Members of Congress consider the issue of equal pay as one of their top legislative priorities, and BPW/USA will support them in moving the Paycheck Fairness Act forward in the 110th Congress.
BPW/USA supports the Paycheck Fairness Act because it would strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963 by providing more effective remedies in cases of sex discrimination in the payment of wages. In 2007, when women make up 46 percent of the workforce many think that the issue of pay discrimination no longer exists; however labor statistics and the deluge of recent corporate law suits disprove that myth. The Equal Pay Act should be strengthened so that women who face discrimination have the legal backing and support they need.
Pay equity is a top legislative priority for BPW/USA because it significantly impacts workingwomen and their families,†said Deborah Frett, CEO of BPW/USA. “The wage gap not only affects women throughout their working lives, but also follows them into retirement defining their families’ financial future. The Paycheck Fairness Act would hold businesses accountable for paying their employees fairly,†noted Frett.
The wage gap costs the average American full-time workingwoman between $700,000 and $2 million over the course of her lifetime, according to economist Evelyn Murphy, president of the WAGE Project. Pay discrimination will continue unless actions are done to remedy it. According to the 2006 Census Bureau, full-time working women, on average, earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterpart. The passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act would be a significant action towards giving women economic parity.
For information on Equal Pay Day which will be recognized April 24, 2007 and BPW/USA’s other legislative priorities, please visit http://www.bpwusa.org. BPW/USA also has materials to educate women and businesses about the wage gap; visit us online today for a copy of our employer equal pay audit.
Founded in 1919, Business and Professional Women/USA is a multi-generational, nonpartisan membership organization which promotes equity for all women in the workplace through advocacy, education and information. Established as the first organization to focus on issues of workingwomen, BPW/USA is historically a leader in grassroots activism, policy influence and advocacy for millions of workingwomen.

WAGE Survey Of Working Women: Highlights
24, 2007
Equal Pay Day
To read the Survey Results, click on www.wageproject.org.


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