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Equal pay legislation reintroduced in U.S. Congress

Alabama native Lilly Ledbetter was on hand Wednesday with lawmakers and discussed the equal pay...
Alabama native Lilly Ledbetter was on hand Wednesday with lawmakers and discussed the equal pay legislation passed because of her in 2009. (Source: CNN)(Source: CNN)
Published: Jan. 30, 2019 at 6:49 PM CST
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WASHINGTON, DC (CNN/WSFA) - Legislation that supporters say would help narrow the gender-wage gap is being reintroduced in congress.

On Wednesday, lawmakers officially reintroduced the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that would protect employees from retaliation for discussing their salary. The bill would also limit the use of salary history in the hiring process and close loopholes in the existing equal pay laws, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.

In 2009, President Barak Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law. Ledbetter, a Jacksonville, Alabama native and an equal pay activist, was the plaintiff in an employment discrimination case with Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., a company with which she worked for 19 years and that paid her a fraction of what her male counterparts earned.

The lawsuit reached the U.S. Supreme Court and her claim was denied because she did not file the suit within 180 days from the date of the discriminatory policy that led to the reduced paycheck. Ledbetter said she had not discovered the discrepancy until much later in her career.

The Ledbetter Act loosens the statute of limitations on filing an equal-pay lawsuit, restarting the 180 day clock whenever a paycheck reflecting the discrimination is issued.

Ledbetter was on hand Wednesday with lawmakers and discussed the legislation passed because of her.

"Ten years ago, I stood beside President Obama as he signed the law to ensure that all workers who faced discrimination like I did could have their day in court,” she said. “Take it from me, the consequences of pay discrimination, they last your entire life."

Ledbetter said she feels it is her duty to inform young women that pay discrimination is still very much a reality.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she hopes President Donald Trump will sign the Paycheck Fairness Act into law by April 2, which is Equal Pay Day, but Senate Republicans are unlikely to support it. Likewise, Republicans in the House of Representatives have voted against the bill four times since 2012. Some Republicans have called the proposed law unnecessary since gender discrimination is already illegal and they think the regulations would discourage companies from hiring women.

Forty-four senators have signed on to the legislation.

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