Pop the cork! The Ledbetter Fair Pay Bill has been signed by President Obama. Congress gave final approval to a civil rights bill providing women, blacks, and Hispanics with powerful new tools to challenge pay discrimination in the workplace. This is the first significant legislation signed by President Obama. This is a huge milestone toward our goal of equal pay for equal work. Read President Obama’s comments and blog entitled, “A Wonderful Day.”
The Fair Pay Act reverses the Supreme Court’s ruling in Ledbetter v. Goodyear. The Supreme Court enforced the ruling that employees must file a complaint within 180 days of said discrimination. Since pay is often private and confidential, it can be well over 180 days until an employee realizes that he or she is the subject of pay discrimination. This Act would allow employees the opportunity to challenge discrimination at any point.
Lilly Ledbetter worked at Goodyear for nineteen years before accepting an early retirement offer. Shortly before she left Goodyear, Ledbetter received an anonymous memo revealing other shift supervisors with the same title and job responsibilities were paid between 14 to 30 percent more than what she was earning. Ledbetter sued, and in the course of the lawsuit, Goodyear’s records confirmed the anonymous tip—the sole woman supervisor was paid far less than the men in the same positions were.
A jury found that Goodyear had unlawfully discriminated against Ledbetter and awarded her $224,000 in back pay, $4,600 in mental anguish, and $3.2 million dollars in punitive damages. Goodyear appealed and the appellate court sided with Goodyear, finding that Ledbetter was barred from bringing a lawsuit because she didn’t file a complaint within six months of when her supervisor made the discriminatory decision to pay her less than the men.
Read the NYT’s article, Congress Relaxes Rules on Suits Over Pay Inequality and the AP story, Questions and Answers on the Fair Pay Bill.
You can find the full text of the bill here.
Contact your congressional representative to support this legislation here.
Enjoy this wonderful day!