Rutgers’ Center for Women and Work (CWW) hosted an event with Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg on Friday, January 29, 2016 celebrating the seventh anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
Senate President Stephen Sweeney, Senator Sandra Bolden Cunningham, and Senator Linda Greenstein joined Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and CWW Executive Director Dr. Teresa Boyer. Other speakers included Laurel Brennan, secretary-treasurer of the New Jersey American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO); and Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, executive director of New Jersey Citizen Action.
Held at the Janice H. Levin Building on Rutgers Livingston Campus, the conference was part of a national “Equal Pay Can’t Wait” celebration with events in more than 20 states nationwide to ensure women are paid equally for doing the same work as men.
Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg gave the opening remarks to a room filled with Rutgers students and professors, union leaders, advocacy organizations, and members of New Jersey’s media.
“Seven years after enactment of this landmark law, women in New Jersey and across the country still earn less than men for the same work. In 2016, this is unacceptable,” said Weinberg. “If we continue at the current pace, research shows it will take decades to achieve pay equity in New Jersey and more than 100 years to reach this point as a country.”
Dr. Boyer, executive director of Rutgers’ Center for Women and Work, discussed the center’s research since the Lilly Ledbetter Act was passed in 2009. “Research on pay equity is central to our work, because it is a measure of women’s status in the workplace. When the pay gap has been eliminated, we will know we have reached equality,” said Boyer.
The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Play Act of 2009 amended the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to state that the 180-day statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit regarding pay discrimination resets with each new paycheck affected by that discriminatory action. In 2016, women in the United States make only 79 cents for every dollar a man makes. In New Jersey, on average, women make 80.4 cents for each dollar a man makes. The wage gap is much greater for women of color: African-American women make 58.1 cents for every dollar a man does; for Latinas, the wage statistic is 42.7 cents.
“Women are increasingly responsible for the economic security of their families. For women of color, the impacts of pay inequality are often even greater felt as they are more likely than white women to be heads of household. Closing the wage gap will strengthen families and our economy,” said Boyer.
Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations’ Center for Women and Work addresses women’s advancement in the workplace and conducts cutting-edge research on successful public and workplace policies. The center also provides technical assistance and programs to educators, industry, and governments while engaging issues that directly affect the living standards of New Jersey’s and the nation’s working families. The organization of the “Equal Pay Can’t Wait” conference is among the center’s many efforts.
Click here to view press coverage of the “Equal Pay Can’t Wait” conference.