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 contrast, the dissent’s argument that a discrimination plaintiff can sue based on each paycheck she receives, if her current paycheck was somehow affected by discrimination in the distant past, would allow plaintiffs to sue based on discrimination that occurred decades before, even if the employer is innocent, the alleged discriminators have all died, and the employer no longer has access to any evidence that could vindicate it…That is fundamentally unfair, and at odds with the whole purpose of having a statute of limitations.

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The Competitive Enterprise Institute.

This bill would allow an employee to bring a claim against an employer decades after the alleged initial act of discrimination occurred. Trial lawyers, you can be sure, are salivating at this very prospect.

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Representative Howard P. McKeon (R-CA), the senior Republican House Committee on Education and Labor, The New York Times.

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."

The new law would pretty clearly restart the time clock for filing the claim when an employee receives a retirement benefit, a pension benefit, even an (employee stock ownership plan payment). In doing so, the Ledbetter Act exposes employers to endless liability…[it is an] unprecedented expansion [of employment law].

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Michael Layman of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), Inc.Com.