By Chris Hoenig
The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act needs to be abolished because “women are extremely busy,” according to a new political action committee (PAC) representing women.
The comments, made by RedState Women Executive Director Cari Christman on Dallas-Fort Worth ABC affiliate WFAA, came in response to questions about the new women-aimed PAC supporting Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott’s opposition to equal pay laws. “Women want real-world solutions to this problem, not more rhetoric,” Christman told the reporter, who then asked what the PAC was suggesting to do to help close gender gaps in income.
“If you look at it, women are extremely busy,” she said. “We lead busy lives, whether working professionally, whether working from home, and times are extremely busy. It’s a busy cycle for women, and we’ve got a lot to juggle. So when we look at this issue we think, what’s practical And we want more access to jobs. We want to be able to get a higher education degree at the same time we’re working or raising a family.”
You can see video of Christman’s comments below.
Equal pay has been a leading topic in the Lone Star State’s gubernatorial race. Abbott says current state law adequately protects women and that the state does not need its own version of the Fair Pay Act, although one was passed by the state legislature last year before being vetoed by outgoing Governor Rick Perry.
“I fully expect women to be paid what men are paid,” Abbott told WFAA’s Inside Texas Politics. “There shouldn’t be any differential in payment because of sex.
“I’m proud to say that Texas is one of the few states in the nation that has a constitutional protection against sexual discrimination of any type. Under the current labor code in the state of Texas, there is a specific statutory prohibition – a specific law in the state of Texas – that prevents discrimination on the basis of sex in any type of employment, and I will ensure that women will not be discriminated in any way on pay because of their sex.”
But as attorney general, Abbott successfully challenged that very law. When Diljit Chatha learned that she was being paid less than her male counterparts at Pairie View A&M University, she filed suit, seeking equal pay. Abbott argued that, under the state law, Chatha was limited to 180 days from her hiring to file the lawsuit, and that time had elapsed before she discovered the discrimination. The Texas Supreme Court agreed and the lawsuit was dismissed.
The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which was the first bill signed into law by President Obama in January 2009, amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to extend the 180-day filing period by having it begin at the most recent paycheck, not the start of employment.
On average, women in the United States earn just 77 percent of what men do; or, for more perspective, while men earn an average of nearly $50,000 a year, the average salary for a woman nationwide is under $38,000.
“At some point in time he has to take responsibility for the fact that he is defending laws that are not in keeping with the values of everyday Texans,” Davis said of Abbott’s defense against Chatha’s lawsuit. “Greg Abbott would be a governor who doesn’t care about the more than 400,000 households headed by women who need a full day’s pay to buy the groceries, put gas in the car, get their kids a new pair of tennis shoes before school starts.”
Davis’ campaign also used to RedState Women interview to Abbott’s own salary. “These out-of-touch comments from a top Greg Abbott ally are no surprise given that Abbott fought against equal pay for equal work in the courtroom at the same time he accepted a 62% taxpayer-funded pay raise for himself,” campaign spokeswoman Rebecca Acuna said in a statement. “Here’s a newsflash for Greg Abbott: Women aren’t too ‘busy’ to fight for economic fairness for all hardworking Texans and they aren’t too ‘busy’ to reject his business as usual opposition to equal pay legislation at the polls next November.”
Davis co-sponsored the state equal pay legislation that was vetoed by Perry last year.