Congressman Phil Hare (D-IL), a member of the House Education and Labor Committee, today called on Senate Republicans to allow a vote on the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a bill that would rectify last year's Supreme Court ruling that made it harder for workers to pursue pay discrimination claims.
"On this Equal Pay Day, the best thing we can do for workers suffering from discrimination is send the common sense Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to the President's desk," Hare said. "When the Supreme Court sanctions discrimination through technicalities or misinterpretation, it's Congress' job to clarify the intent of the law."
The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act would clarify that every paycheck or other compensation resulting, in whole or in part, from an earlier discriminatory pay decision 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.
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. The Supreme Court decision ignored the realities of the workplacewhere employees generally do not know enough about what their co-workers earn, or how pay decisions are made, to file a complaint precisely when discrimination first occurs.
"In America, the goal should be to prevent and punish pay discrimination, not find ways to tolerate it," Hare said. "I urge Senate Republicans to join with their Democratic colleagues and support this important civil rights legislation."
Hare voted for and the House passed the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act on July 31, 2007. Equal Pay Day is determined by calculating how far into the year a woman must work, on average, to earn as much as a man did the previous year.