Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on “Barriers to Justice: Examining Equal Pay for Equal Work.” One of the witnesses was retired Goodyear Tire employee Lilly Ledbetter, who was denied equal pay by her supervisor even though she was doing the exact same job as her male counterparts and received numerous performance-based awards. A highlight from today’s hearing:
Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) referred to McCain, saying, “One senior senator, who didn’t show up to vote on the act, said quote ‘women just need more education and job training.’”
Ledbetter said she was “strongly offended” by the McCain statement and that she frequently took continuing education courses while working for Goodyear.
As Ledbetter notes, the pay gap does not exist because of education inequality, despite what McCain said. Dana Goldstein points out that women increasingly make up majorities of college-degree holders:
Women account for 56 percent of the undergraduate student population and 59 percent of the graduate school population. Across all age groups, over half of all the people in the United States with a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree are women, though men do still make up the majority of Americans with a professional degree or doctorate. Younger generations are moving quickly toward parity.
McCain has claimed that he is “committed to making sure that there’s equal pay for equal work.” However, he opposed the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which would have rectified the Supreme Court decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear “that made it much harder for women and other workers to pursue pay discrimination claims.”
In 2000, McCain also opposed an amendment aimed at providing “more effective remedies to victims of discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex.” In 1985, McCain voted against a study to investigate pay differences among federal employees and determine whether they were the result of discrimination.