Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, coming under attack for opposing Democratic Party efforts on equal pay for equal work while the one-term senator insists she's been working on her own proposal.

Jan 26, 2016 9:35 AM

NH Dems slam Sen. Kelly Ayotte on equal pay on heels of Ledbetter case anniversary

CONCORD - New Hampshire Democrats intend to seize on the anniversary of the landmark Lilly Ledbetter case to go on the attack against Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, regarding equal pay for equal work.

“Kelly Ayotte has stood firmly on the side of her party bosses and special interest backers like the Koch Brothers and against working women in the Granite State by opposing common sense measures to close the wage gap and give hard-working families a much needed economic boost,” New Hampshire Democratic Party Press Secretary Melissa Miller said in a statement.

“As we celebrate the landmark passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act 7 years ago this week, Granite State women deserve to know the truth about Kelly Ayotte’s record on opposing fair pay for women.”

Friday marks the anniversary since Ledbetter made international headlines as a Goodyear manager who worked for 19 years before realizing - thanks to an anonymous note - that she was getting paid much less than her male counterparts.

"I was making 40 percent less than those men,” she said. “After realizing that, I finally got enough energy to do my 12-hour shift, then thought about how my overtime, my retirement, 401K and social security were all based on what I was earning.”

The court ruled in her favor, awarding her $3.8 million, but a federal Civil Rights Act limited her damages to only $300,000 - half of which went to her attorney.

Ledbetter lost the case in an appeal after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled employees could only file a pay discrimination suit 180 days after their first paycheck.

The pay gap between men and women has not dramatically changed in 10 years, and women are only making 79 cents per dollar to men - a difference that can’t be fixed with a college degree.

Recent graduates make 82 cents to every dollar and the disparity for women of color is even worse.

New Hampshire Democratic Party officials claim Ayotte has voted four times against the Paycheck Fairness Act and instead introduced a sham bill to cover her tracks that would create loopholes to allow employers to prohibit discussion of wages.

An Ayotte campaign spokesman said she’s worked on her own equal pay measure.

"It's bizarre that Democrats would attack Kelly's equal pay legislation, which is based on New Hampshire's own bipartisan pay equity law that Governor Hassan signed into law and provides even stronger protections for employees," said spokeswoman Chloe Rockow. "Instead of politicizing this important issue, Governor Hassan and New Hampshire Democrats should support Kelly's efforts to pass this bill, which makes clear men and women must receive equal pay for equal work, bans retaliation for discussing pay information, and preserves the ability of women to earn merit pay."

The N.H. Senate race in 2016 has already been cast as a showdown on women's issues as Governor Maggie Hassan highlights her support for abortion rights while Ayotte presses for legislation to enhance mammography benefits for women.

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