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Saperstein: "Both of these bills are essential in helping ensure women receive fair pay in the workplace."
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WASHINGTON, D.C., January 6, 2009 - In anticipation of a vote this week in the House of Representatives on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, sent a letter to House members urging them to support these vital bills. The text of the letter follows:
On behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), whose membership includes more than 1,800 Reform rabbis, I strongly urge you to vote for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act, both of which are expected on the House floor this week.
These key bills would protect employees against pay discrimination and help achieve pay equity for women. Women and minorities, who comprise the majority of those living on welfare and in poverty, are disproportionately affected by pay discrimination; equitable pay is not only a right, but a vital step in enabling women to pull themselves out of poverty. When the Supreme Court ruled in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. that all wage discrimination cases had to be filed within 180 days of the first discriminatory pay check, Justice Ginsburg wrote in her dissent that Ðthis court does not comprehend, or is indifferent to, the insidious way in which women can be victims of pay discrimination."
The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act will restore the rights of employees who have suffered pay discrimination to recourse by clarifying the current statute to allow employers to be sued every time they issue a discriminatory paycheck, regardless of how much time has lapsed since the discrimination first occurred. The Paycheck Fairness Act will also deter pay discrimination by closing loopholes in the law and barring retaliation against workers who disclose their wages. This bill strengthens the Equal Pay Act of 1963 to ensure that it provides effective protection against sex-based pay discrimination. Both of these bills are essential in helping ensure women receive fair pay in the workplace.
As Jews, we are inspired by our tradition, which commands that, "You shall not defraud your neighbor, nor rob him; the wages of he who is hired shall not remain with you all night until the morning" (Leviticus 9:13). Judaism also teaches that all human beings should be treated equally because they are created btselem elohim, in the image of God.
We must not tolerate pay discrimination in our society. By passing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act, we can help put an end to unequal pay for women.
Rabbi David Saperstein