Lilly Ledbetter had hoped that when she returned to Congress, it would be to celebrate a second victory for equal pay rights. But on June 5, the Paycheck Fairness Act, which Ledbetter supported, failed to pass the Senate.
The bill forces employers to explain wage discrepancies based on education, qualification and other reasons not based on gender.
It would make it easier for those who might experience wage discrimination to act by giving them the right to share salary information with co-workers. The bill would also require employers to compensate those who have been discriminated against.
The act would have expanded upon the Equal Pay Act and the Fair Labor Standards, which guarantees that all sexes, races and ethnicities have the same rights to equal wages and labor standards.
In North Carolina, for every dollar that a man earns, a woman earns only 84 cents. Nationally, the wage gap is 82 cents for every dollar earned, according to average weekly wage data released by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md).
Ledbetter has been the face of the bill as it adds to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act that President Obama signed into law in 2009. This was his first bill signed as president. Ledbetter became involved in fighting for equal pay rights after her case against Goodyear Tire Company reached the Supreme Court in 2006. Ledbetter wrote a personal letter to Mitt Romney asking him to back the Paycheck Fairness bill.
The vote on the bill fell along party lines on Tuesday, with all Republicans voting against.
The failure of the bill has given Democrats new ammunition in their campaign to gain the female vote. Democrats explain that the rejection of this bill is an example of how Republicans refuse to pass laws that will promote equality for women. Republicans responded with specific criticism of the bill, stating that there is only a marginal wage gap between men and women and that this bill would have affected businesses if employees sued because of salary issues.