Mrs. Lilly Ledbetter, wife, mother of two and former employee of Goodyear Tire, is the source behind President Barack Obama’s signing the Fair Pay Act as his first piece of legislation when he took office in 2009. As of 2009, the National Women’s Law Center estimated that on average, women are paid only 78 cents for each dollar men are paid for comparable work. The Fair Pay Act prohibits wage discrimination based on sex, race or national origin among employees for work in “equivalent jobs.” Equivalent jobs are those whose skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions are equivalent in value, even if the jobs are not similar.
As an extension of the 1963 Equal Pay Act, which is limited to sex-based discrimination in the same jobs, the Fair Pay Act allows class action lawsuits to be filed and also provides for compensatory and punitive damages. Additionally this Fair Pay Act requires some employers to disclose to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) general job classifications and their pay statistics, yet, prohibits a company from lowering any employee’s wage rate in order to implement fair pay.