More than Small Claims
You know, one thing I've noticed is that tort deformers really like to trivialize the importance of access to justice, distorting the fight for access to our courts into some gimmicky story about litigious people filing crazy lawsuits prompted by greedy lawyers. While we chuckle at stories about spilled coffee, despite facts that tell the real story behind these spins, here are some sobering facts (not anecdotes or tall tales) that might remind us why our civil justice system is so important:
• Women in the United States are still paid only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men;
• African-American women earn only 63 cents; and
• Latinas earn only 52 cents for every dollar paid to white men.
For more information on unequal pay, check out this Pay Equity fact sheet, provided by the National Women's Law Center. They have really dug their heels into this issue of pay equity. You should check them out and use their website to get informed about the importance of fair pay.
Why am I writing about this? Next Tuesday isn't just the Pennsylvania Primary, it's also Fair Pay Day. So today, bloggers across the web are writing about why fair pay is so important. Being able to take discriminatory employers to court isn't just about principle, it's about substantive issues like the ability to provide for your family, save up for your retirement, and live an adequately comfortable life. Lily Ledbetter's story is the classic example of the injustice that occurs when someone is denied equal pay for equal work. That's why NWLC's and others' advocacy of the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is so important.
The Fair Pay Act would restore access to civil justice for women who've been denied equal pay, and who under Ledbetter v. Goodyear would be denied justice if they didn't somehow (through a psychic, I suppose?) discover the discrimination within the first 180 days of the first discriminatory pay check being issued. This issue clearly demonstrates why the fight for civil justice is about more than lawsuits over slips and falls. Real lives and livelihoods are at stake here, and often the courts serve as a last chance for justice. We're going to keep you posted on the progress of the Fair Pay Act and other efforts to restore equity in employment.