On January 29th, the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) commemorated the twelfth anniversary of the enactment of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the landmark law that restored the rights of employees to have their day in court for ongoing wage discrimination. I was honored to stand with Lilly Ledbetter 12 years ago as the bill bearing her name was signed, but the struggle for women’s pay equity continues. Wage discrimination and pay inequity persist because new tools are needed to combat the wage gap itself.
For survivors of domestic violence, pay inequality can have devastating consequences. Survivors’ safety can be linked to their economic stability, and abusive partners often use financial abuse as a tactic for maintaining power and control over a victim. In addition, the financial effects of COVID-19 have fallen dramatically on women, particularly women of color, who are more likely to be on the front lines of the crisis, while also being paid less than their male counterparts. For example, Black women typically make only 63 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.
These pay gaps can be addressed only if workers have the legal tools necessary to challenge discrimination and employers are provided with effective incentives and technical assistance to comply with the law.
Recently, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced the bipartisan Paycheck Fairness Act—a bill that would strengthen and amend the Equal Pay Act of 1963 to give workers stronger enforcement tools and remedies to help close, for once and for all, the pay gap between men and women. The ongoing crisis of COVID-19, and the nation’s economic fallout, have further exposed the already-existing inequities in our nation for women workers, particularly women of color, many of whom face pay inequality, job loss, lack of access to paid leave, low-wage work, and substantial risk to their own lives on the front lines.
We need Congress to move swiftly to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act and other critical employment protections. It’s time to provide survivors with the tools they need to achieve independence, stability, and financial security for themselves and their families.
Read my full statement to learn more about the anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, our nation’s ongoing pay disparities, and why we need Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act and other protections that lift wages and protect employment.
For safety and peace,
Deborah J. Vagins
NNEDV President and CEO