On January 9th, the House passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Now our attentions are turned towards the Senate to see what will become of this legislation, which passed in the House last year as well, but faced defeat in the Senate. The Senate has invoked cloture, which should lead to a final vote in the next few days.
Lilly Ledbetter was a supervisor at Goodyear Tires and Rubber Plant for nineteen years before it came to her attention that she was experiencing pay discrimination. Though the Court of Appeals ruled in her favor and awarded her backpay and damages, their decision was overturned when the case reached the Supreme Court. The Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company verdict set a precedent that pay discrimination claims must be filed within the 180 days following the first instance of discrimination. Like Lilly, women may not find out for years that they are victims of pay discrimination. The Supreme Court’s decision made it even more difficult for women to submit pay discrimination claims and provided no incentive for employers to cease their discriminatory practices, since they would not be penalized if their actions went undetected in the first six months of employment. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act would overturn the Supreme Court’s decision and allow women to pursue pay discrimination claims 180 days after each instance of pay discrimination.
Ledbetter gained fame during the 2008 elections when she appeared in advertisements for Barack Obama. This weekend, she will accompany President-Elect Obama on his inaugural train ride into DC.
We will post updates on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act as more information becomes available. In the meantime, if you're interested in getting involved, you can find contact information for your senators at www.senate.gov. Visit the National Committee for Pay Equity's website to learn more about pay equity as well as the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
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