Monday, April 28, 2008

Lilly Ledbetter and Anti Discrimination

The senate could not get to 60 + votes to even get this important legislation to the debate phase, upholding the Supreme court's "You snooze, you lose." decision against Lilly Ledbetter.

Cloture Motion; Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007 - Vote Rejected (56-42, 2 Not Voting) The Senate fell short of the sixty votes necessary to proceed to debate on H.R. 2831, a bill that effectively overturns a recent Supreme Court decision concerning pay discrimination litigation.

H.R.2831 basically takes on the recent Supreme Court decision that railroaded Goodyear Tire employee Lilly Ledbetter after she had been subjected to years of pay discrimination. That the discrimination had occurred does not seem to be in question at all. But finding a loophole in the 1964 civil rights act was the order of the day for Justice Roberts and Co. All this in support of hallowed corporate America.
The Legislation:
The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other anti-discrimination laws to clarify at which points in time discriminatory actions qualify as an “unlawful employment practice.” According to the legislation, unlawful conduct occurs when: “(1) a discriminatory compensation decision or other practice is adopted; (2) an individual becomes subject to the decision or practice; or (3) an individual is affected by application of the decision or practice, including each time compensation is paid.” The law further states that individuals may receive back pay as compensation for discrimination that occurred up to two years preceding the filing of a charge.

The Background ;(from
Americans need the protection of strong anti-discrimination laws to ensure that they are treated fairly by employers. But the mere existence of these laws is not sufficient: the practical ability to enforce them in a meaningful way is crucial. By clarifying a technicality in employment discrimination law, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act deters discriminatory practices in the workplace and ensures that when discrimination does occur, wronged employees can receive fair compensation.

This legislation clarifies that employment discrimination law should be interpreted the way courts have traditionally understood it – until the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a more restrictive interpretation in the 2007 Ledbetter V. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. decision. In this case, the Court ruled that plaintiff Lilly Ledbetter was not eligible for compensation despite years of being paid far less than her male peers and even some male subordinates. According the Court, unlawful discrimination had occurred only when her employer first set the discriminatory pay rate, even though Ledbetter had no way of knowing about it until years later. Under this ruling, since Ledbetter’s employer was able to conceal the discrimination for years and she did not find out about the discrimination until it was too late to file a complaint (within 180 days of the first discriminatory paycheck, according to the Court), she had no legal recourse.

By reaffirming that a fresh discrimination offense occurs each time an individual is impacted by a discriminatory practice, including each paycheck that includes unfair compensation, this legislation effectively reverses the Supreme Court’s harmful decision and ensures that people subjected to discrimination in the future will continue to have effective recourse to the law.
That we need to even have this clarification is a tragedy and symbol of the weakening of the middle class, the disparity of wealth and more importantly power, and the need for a democratic president ASAP. Most experts think that the next president will be replacing 2-3 justices. Do we want Sen. McSame making those choices? Can any of us afford that? "Uniquely American " will mean working 3 jobs where employers can treat you unfairly and you have less and less of a chance to fight back.

A little more on Lilly's case;
Year in which Ledbetter received a “Top Performance” award from the company: 1996

Amount Lilly Ledbetter was paid per month in 1997, the last full year she worked for Goodyear Tire Co.: $3,727

Amount the lowest paid of the 15 men doing similar work for the company was paid per month in 1997: $4,286

Median annual earnings for U.S. full-time, year-round, male workers in 2006: $42,261

Median annual earnings for U.S. full-time, year-round, female workers in 2006: $32,515

My industry is run by men. Chefs and GM's are mostly men, and women have a hard time moving up in the hotel and restaurant business. But this kind of thing affects all of us, and our daughters. If you haven't checked out yet, give it a look- great for researching and reading more about this and all other legislation your congresscritters are voting on.