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

By applying the paycheck rule broadly, it is possible that claims could be filed decades after an allegedly discriminatory act occurred. By applying the rule to pension annuities as well, a cause of action could arise decades after the individual ceased to work for the employer….Subjecting employers to such claims would literally lead to an explosion of litigation second guessing legitimate employment and personnel decisions.

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Chamber of Commerce’s Key Vote Alert.

When disagreements and disputes in the workplace fester and potential damage amounts increase, compromise and cooperation become far more difficult. Ms. Ledbetter claimed, however, that she was entitled by a special ‘paycheck rule’ applicable only to claims of alleged pay discrimination, to sleep on her rights for decades before raising her concerns with the EEOC.

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Neal D. Mollen, counsel for Chamber of Commerce, testimony, House Committee on Education and Labor.

Removing the caps on damages sought by plaintiffs would likely prompt employers to protect themselves by purchasing expanded legal liability insurance. That added burden of insurance would increase the cost of doing business in the United States and may result in a reduction of employees’ wages and benefits and/or the hiring of fewer workers.

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