Statement from Joe Siegelman regarding Lilly Ledbetter's endorsement and Joe's platform for women's rights in the workplace:
Lilly Ledbetter's personal sacrifice in pursuit of justice for women in the workplace has lifted us all up and Alabama is lucky to call Ms. Ledbetter one of our own. I take great pride in having her endorsement, and I promise her and all women in Alabama that I will honor it.
Joe's Platform for Women's Rights in the Workplace:
Gender discrimination is a cancer on our economy. As of last year, 42% of women in the workplace experienced some form of gender discrimination. Among other things, that means 25% of women earn less money than a man who does the same job. As Ms. Ledbetter knows, while this problem is national, it's also very local. Alabama women are paid 76 cents for every dollar paid to men. That means on average that if you're a woman in Alabama, you're being shortchanged to the tune of $10,747 every year. The problem gets worse for women of color. African American women are paid 57 cents on the dollar, and Latina women are paid 49 cents on the dollar.
Besides the pay gap, sexual harassment in the workplace is rampant. One reason laws are less effective than they could be is that reporting is very uncommon. That's because women worry that their reports will be ignored, or they'll be fired or retaliated against for speaking up. That's unacceptable, and I intend to make a change.
Fortunately, and thanks in part to the perseverance of Lilly Ledbetter herself, there are some things we can do about these problems right now. As Attorney General, and in partnership with advocates for gender equality, I will:
- Vigorously enforce the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and workers' right to learn about potential pay disparities. The best antiseptic is sunlight, and I will advocate for all women who suspect they're being shortchanged in their work. Paying women less than men is illegal, and I will enforce the law to keep it from happening.
- Mandate that supervisors report employee complaints of gender discrimination or sexual harassment. There will be no discretion about whether to report the complaint.
- Require a written response -- available to the victim and kept on file -- to each and every allegation of sexual harassment or gender discrimination, no matter what. There will be no discretion as to whether these records are kept. This policy will be considered a best practice for state agencies, I will share it with others and make it known that I expect written records to be the standard for addressing workplace harassment complaints.
- Institute a formal process for reviewing requests from public officials who want the state to fund their legal representation when they harass a coworker or employee.
- Refuse to do business with any vendor, be it a bank, law firm, paper supplier, custodial service, that doesn't adopt and follow a policy guaranteeing equal employment rights to women.