Pay equity and workplace fairness are critical to LGBT people

The White House Middle Class Task Force and Council on Women and Girls today unveiled recommendations from the Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force aimed at ending pay inequity and discrimination. The recommendations are related to the 2009 passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which helps women who face wage discrimination recover their lost wages. National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey joined leaders of women’s and labor groups for the release of the recommendations, which include ways to better inform employees about their rights and improve coordination among enforcement agencies. Advocates and officials also urged the Senate to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which will help ensure people who do equal work receive equal pay.

Among the speakers were Vice President Joe Biden, Lilly Ledbetter and Secretary Hilda Solis, who specifically noted that the Department of Labor has now clarified the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) so that, “anyone who parents a child has the right to FMLA-protected leave — whether that is an LGBT family or an extended family — a ‘tia or aunt’ who steps in to care for a child because a parent is on military leave…and, yes, a daughter of a same-sex partnership may take leave to care for her non-adoptive or non-biological parent.”

Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey had this to say:

A year ago, we celebrated the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which is helping women who face wage discrimination recover their lost wages. That fair-minded and important law is working to extinguish a deep injustice that has unfairly and unnecessarily placed female employees — including lesbian, bisexual and transgender women — and their families in a highly vulnerable and untenable position. Still, much remains to be done to ensure fairness in the workplace. Today’s recommendations, which include a call for passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, move women farther down the path toward equality.

This can’t happen soon enough. In the United States, women comprise half of the workforce, and many families rely on those incomes to survive. Despite this, women still only make 77 cents for every dollar that men earn. For working women of color, the gap is even wider. To see this disparity continuing in 2010 is shameful. This must end; the recommendations, when implemented, will help get us there. Compounding the issue of unequal pay and discrimination in the workplace for many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is having a job at all, which is why it is critical we pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to stamp out workplace discrimination against LGBT people. Our call to Congress: Pass ENDA now. All of society benefits when all of its people are free to fully contribute their talents, and are treated and compensated fairly. It’s good for individuals, good for families, good for the economy and good for the country. We thank Secretary Solis for including LGBT families in the Department of Labor’s vision for workplace fairness and in her remarks today.