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Ledbetter Fair Pay Act Filibustered in Senate May 5, 2008

Posted by Center for Inquiry Office of Public Policy in Uncategorized.
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On Wednesday, April 25, 2008 the Senate refused to pass the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (H.R. 2831). Although the bill received endorsements from women’s rights and civil liberties groups and was supported by a majority of Senators, the legislation was filibustered by a group of members in the Senate (see how your Senator voted here). Both members of Congress and civil rights leaders expressed disappointment with the filibuster. “[I]t is hard for me to understand how the Senate cannot support equal pay for equal work,” said Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL).

However, the fight for fair pay is not over yet. Despite the filibuster, the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act still has a chance to make it to the floor in the future. The Office of Public Policy has been meeting with Senate members and staff to emphasize that until this bill is not passed, work places across the nation can discriminate everyday on the basis of gender, religion, race, age, disability, or national origin.

The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which passed in the House in 2007, is named for Lilly Ledbetter, a former employee for Good Year Tire & Rubber, Co. Throughout her career as a Goodyear factory manager, Ms. Ledbetter unknowingly received lower pay than similarly situated male employees at the same factory. Soon after discovering that she was being discriminated against on the basis of her ender, Ms. Ledbetter filed suit against her employer and her case made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In Ledbetter v. Goodyear the Supreme Court ruled against Ms. Ledbetter. The Court decided that employees who receive disparate pay on the basis of gender must file suit within 180 days of the first discriminatory pay check whether or not the employee knows that she or he is being discriminated against.

The Supreme Court’s decision in Ledbetter makes it difficult for people to file claims for gender, racial, religious, or age-based wage discrimination. People who are disabled, elderly, of various national origins, of particular religious faiths or none–and women–are all threatened by the underlying Supreme Court decision. Said Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), “That has to be altered. It has to be changed.”

The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act corrects the Supreme Court’s decision by allowing an employee to file claims against her or his employers for up to 180 days after each discriminatory pay check. Under the act, employees will not be required to file nearly impossible claims and employers will be encouraged to provide similar pay for similarly situated employees.

You also can help pass this historic bill. Contact your Senators today to tell them to support the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act or thank them for their support (see if your Senator is a co-sponsoring here).

For more information on the Ledbetter bill and CFI’s letter to the Senate please visit the CFI homepage.

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