Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act renews a worker’s right to sue for wage discrimination within six months of every unfair paycheck, not just the first.  The legislation was spurred by the case of Lily Ledbetter, a lifelong employee of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, who became aware that the company had, for decades, consistently paid her less than her equivalent male colleagues. A jury found her employer guilty of pay discrimination, but the conservative wing of the Supreme Court overturned the case, 5-4, because she hadn’t sued within 180 days of the date of the first discriminatory paycheck. (This would have been impossible, of course, because Ledbetter only became aware of the injustice after it had been happening for decades.) The Act overturns the Court’s decision. 

Cry Wolf Quotes

The only ones who will see an increase in pay are some of the trial lawyers who bring the cases.

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Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) quoted in “How Dumb Are We? How long will women shoulder the blame for the pay gap?” in Slate.

Petitioner, however, seeks a rule that would effectively eliminate any meaningful period of limitation in certain kinds of discriminatory pay claims, allowing an employee to wait years or even decades to challenge an allegedly discriminatory decision so long as the economic consequences of that decision have continued into the limitations period. Such a rule would be irreconcilable with Congress’ design for the administration of Title VII, and would subject the employers…to damages for entirely innocent decisions that have nonetheless become difficult or impossible to defend solely because of the passage of time….such a rule would impose an unwarranted and excessive burden on employers…

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From the amicus brief filed by Chamber of Commerce and the NFIB Legal Foundation.

Well, that didn't take long. Democrats are planning to kick off the legislative portion of the 111th Congress as early as today with two big donations to one of their most loyal retainers: the plaintiffs bar….For the tort bar, this is pure gold. It would create a new legal business in digging up ancient workplace grievances…. Elections have consequences, and one price of November's vote is going to be a more powerful, and much richer, plaintiffs bar.

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From the Wall Street Journal's “Trial Lawyer Bonanza: Off and suing with the 111th Congress."

Unfortunately, these bills will do little to prevent actual instances of unlawful discrimination, but they will open the flood gates to unwarranted litigation against employers at a time when businesses are struggling to retain and create jobs.

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Jeri G. Kubicki, NAM’s Vice President Human Resources Policy, The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). Letter to Congress.