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

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.

I am all in favor of pay equity for women, but this kind of legislation, as is typical of what's being proposed by my friends on the other side of the aisle, opens us up to lawsuits for all kinds of problems.....This is government playing a much, much greater role in the business of a private enterprise system.

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John McCain on the campaign trail.

[M]any legitimate concerns have…been raised about this bill, and the hasty attempt to pass it without considering these important issues only heightens the Chamber's concerns that this legislation would dramatically expand the number of frivolous and otherwise questionable cases that could be brought against employers. The Senate would be well served to further examine this bill and properly consider alternative approaches through the Committee process.

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Chamber of Commerce’s executive vice president for government affairs, R. Bruce Josten.

[Obama’s signing of the Ledbetter act is] a decision that could prove harmful to small business….Without limits, small businesses would be forced into the position of trying to defend an employment decision that occurred in the distant past…Because discrimination cases tend to rely on circumstantial evidence ('he said, she said' testimony), it would serve both parties best to review what occurred immediately after the event, not years later.

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The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), Slate’s Biz Box.