Hastings Journal on Gender and the Law


While passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is a triumph for American women, it highlights that pay disparity between men and women is a persistent problem. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, women currently earn eighty-one percent of the average weekly wages for men. The restoration of this cause of action could prove an important deterrent to employers, but the relief and remedy is ex post facto rather than prophylactic. This note recounts Lilly Ledbetter's personal journey through the workplace, courts, legislature, and White House. It goes on to expand on systemic factors that perpetuate wage disparities, showing that extant forces operate despite regulation and litigation. The author draws a parallel to the early labor movement, where women sought to enforce their rights within a regulatory vacuum. Several "DIY" solutions, in the spirit of early women activists, are suggested so that women can share and strengthen awareness, and build alliances to stifle the causes of pay disparity and discrimination.