"Equal Pay" Measure Wins Berkley Support, Passes House
Congresswoman Shelley Berkley today voted in favor of legislation that reverses a Supreme Court decision that limited the ability of women and others to pursue pay discrimination claims. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act bill passed on a vote of 250-177. The legislation now goes to President Obama and is expected to be signed into law.
"Women deserve equal pay for equal work and this legislation - named in honor of Lilly Ledbetter - will help to permanently end pay discrimination in the workplace for all Americans. Just as we have done in the past, Congress is again seeking to guarantee fairness in the workplace, this time regarding equal pay," said Berkley. "The Supreme Court's ruling unfairly limited the ability of those denied fair pay to seek compensation in certain instances. Our legislation restores balance to this process and protects important guarantees of equal treatment under the law on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, religion, age, or disability."
The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act would clarify that each discriminatory paycheck or compensation constitutes a violation of the Civil Rights Act. As long as workers file their charges within 180 days of a discriminatory paycheck, their charges would be considered timely. This was the law prior to the Supreme Court's May 2007 decision. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act would apply to workers who file claims of discrimination on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, religion, age, or disability.
Lilly Ledbetter worked for nearly 20 years as an employee of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. She sued the company after learning that she was paid less then her male counterparts at the facility for many years, despite having more experience than several of them. A jury found that her employer had unlawfully discriminated against her on the basis of sex.
However, the Supreme Court said that Ledbetter had waited too long to sue for pay discrimination, despite the fact that she filed a charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as soon as she received an anonymous note alerting her to pay discrimination.
While Ledbetter filed her charge within 180 days of receiving discriminatory pay, the court ruled that, since Ledbetter did not raise a claim within 180 days of the employer's decision to pay her less, she could not receive any relief. Under this Supreme Court decision, employees in Ledbetter's position would be forced to live with discriminatory paychecks for the rest of their careers.