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BREAKING: Obama Signs Wage Anti-Discrimination Law into Effect

BREAKING: Obama Signs Wage Anti-Discrimination Law into Effect

Daniela | Excelle

January 29, 2009

President Barack Obama signed his first piece of legislation Thursday morning, and it sent a big sign of support to labor and civil rights groups everywhere—this White House believes in equal pay for equal work.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act will make it easier for employees to sue for decades-old pay discrimination. The bill effectively ends a 2007 Supreme Court decision that said workers had only 180 days to file a pay-discrimination lawsuit. As a senator, Obama and the Democratic congressional leadership had fought hard against the decision and had worked to put together legislation that would extend the statute of limitation on wage discrimination.

The law is named after a Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. employee who, after working at a plant in Alabama for 19 years, discovered she had been paid 40 percent less than her male peers with the same skills, training, and job description.

In the speech President Obama gave before signing the bill, he said the bill’s namesake had, over the course of her career, “lost more than $200,000 in salary, and even more in pension and Social Security benefits.”

“[W]hile this bill bears her name, Lilly knows this story isn’t just about her. It’s the story of women across this country still earning just 78 cents for every dollar men earn – women of color even less – which means that today, in the year 2009, countless women are still losing thousands of dollars in salary, income and retirement savings over the course of a lifetime,” Obama said.

He continued: “So in signing this bill today, I intend to send a clear message: That making our economy work means making sure it works for everyone. That there are no second class citizens in our workplaces, and that it’s not just unfair and illegal – but bad for business – to pay someone less because of their gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion or disability. And that justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory, or footnote in a casebook – it’s about how our laws affect the daily realities of people’s lives: their ability to make a living and care for their families and achieve their goals.”

The First Lady, Michelle Obama, was also present for the signing of the bill, marking her first step into the public-policy spotlight since her husband was inaugurated just over a week ago. Mrs. Obama called the law “a top and critical priority for women of all racial and ethnic backgrounds, older women, younger women, women with disabilities and their families."

Nancy Pelosi, the first woman Speaker of the House was also looking on, as was Hillary Clinton, the current Secretary of State and a female trailblazer in her own right.

Discuss and take our poll: Have you ever been the victim of wage discrimination?

Watch the video of Obama’s speech followed by the signing of the bill:

Watch the Obama-Biden campaign ad in which Lilly Ledbetter made an appearance:

Discuss and take our poll: Have you ever been the victim of wage discrimination?


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