Thank you, Mr. President. I’m proud to join with my colleagues today who were here earlier, Senator Mikulski and Senator Murray and Senator Boxer and Senator McCaskill in support of the equal payday.
Eleanor Roosevelt was appointed chairwoman of the president's Status on Women Commission. In 1963 the commission's finding enumerated rampant discrimination against women in the workplace, in hiring, in accommodations and in pay. This was part of the larger catalyst, equal pay. It is sad that after 45 years after the passage of the equal pay act and it takes women 16 months to earn what men can earn in 12 months. In other words, today equal payday marks a day it takes women to finally catch up to where men were back in January. But Roosevelt was a strong, wise woman and she brought to that first commission her personal philosophy that it's better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. That is why it is so important that the Senate take up the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act this week. This important legislation will reverse a 2007 Supreme Court ruling, Ledbetter vs. Goodyear that significantly limited the rights of individuals to sue for gender-based discrimination.
The facts are all too common today. Lilly Ledbetter was a good worker, working at Goodyear tire as a manager for 22 years. All the employees at manager level started at the same payment she knew she was getting the same pay as the men but early in her tenure, the company went to another system. Payment records were kept confidential and Lilly didn't think to ask what her colleagues were making. She didn't think to look at her pay raise and ask if the men in the department were getting the same. The pay differential between what she made and what the male managers were making just kept getting bigger. She only found out from an anonymous note from a co-worker. At trial, she was able to prove discrimination. But the company appealed the jury's finding and the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision decided that Lilly filed her charge too late. They read the law to say that she would have to file it within 180 days of Goodyear making its first discriminatory decision.
Although this decision completely ignores the realities of the workplace, that employees' records are kept confidential understand that there is no way to find out that it starts unless we require women to start the embarrassing process of asking what men make, we cannot expect women to challenge practices they do not know are happening and by passing this law we can start to give women those four months back, those extra months it takes to allow them to catch up to their male colleagues. Thank you, Mr. President.