Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Texas GOP escalates its war on women


The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, the first major piece of legislation Barack Obama signed into law when he became President, not does guarantee equal pay for women. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 does that. But, like state and municipal speed limit laws, employers violate that section of the Civil Rights Act with a regularity that borders on the criminal. This is especially true in Texas where the average annual median pay for men is approximately $10,000 higher than it is for women ($44,000 to $34,000, est.). The national gap is even wider.

If a woman discovers she is being paid less for doing exactly that same work as a man in the same job, her best recourse is to file a federal lawsuit, alleging violations of the 1964 law. However, before the Lilly Ledbetter Act, the woman in question must have filed that suit within 180 days of the decision by her employer to pay her less than the man in the same job. In other words, if she works on the job for six months before she discovers she is being discriminated against, she was simply out of luck.

Under Lilly Ledbetter, that statute of limitations resets each time the woman being discriminated against receives a paycheck affected by the discriminatory action.

For some reason, Texas Republicans (following the lead, in many cases, of Republicans in other red states) have declared that women — their health and their welfare — don’t matter. Their first salvo involved passing laws that effectively closed medical facilities throughout the state that provided women with cancer screenings and other forms of health and wellness programs.

Now GOP gubernatorial candidate and, I am ashamed to admit, the likely next governor of Texas Greg Abbott, Texas’ attorney general, announced today he would not sign a Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay bill that was passed by the Texas Legislature but vetoed by Gov. Rick Perry, another of the Republicans’ leading warriors against women. It is interesting to note that the Lily Ledbetter legislation was introduced in the Texas Senate by Wendy Davis, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee who made a name for herself for her filibuster against the bills designed to deny women the health care they need.

It is also interesting to note that news also broke this morning that women attorneys in Abbott’s office are being paid approximately $6,000 less a year than male attorneys. Let’s face it, the man is a pig.

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