Acting for Fairer Pay
Of all of the commandments that are important to try to follow, the Ten Commandments – which we read in this week’s Torah portion – seem like a pretty good place to start. Not murdering, not committing adultery, not stealing – even having no other Gods or remembering Shabbat – all of these seem like pretty reasonable requests.
It’s the last one that’s getting me into trouble this week. We are told “you shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, his manservant, his maidservant, his ox, his donkey, or whatever belongs to your neighbor” (Exodus 20:15). Now, I’m not quite yearning for an extra ox or donkey – but I have found myself frustrated by the realization that over the course of my lifetime, I am projected to earn over $400,000 less than my male counterparts simply because I am a woman.
Luckily, there’s a legislative fix (or at least the start of one) to this pressing problem: the Paycheck Fairness Act, which was introduced in Congress last week. This bill would deter pay discrimination by closing loopholes in the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and barring retaliation against workers who disclose their wages.
Earlier this week, we celebrated the four year anniversary of the signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Today, we can honor Lilly’s story by continuing to work for the equality and justice that women in this country need and deserve. And if, in the process, we can add “not coveting” back on the list of follow-able commandments, then all the better.