Thursday, January 29, 2009

Victory for Justice: The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Play Act

President Obama is signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Play Act today. It is a great day for justice and equality. It was made necessary because our wonderful Supreme Court, whose Chief Justice cannot remember how to correctly recite an oath, ruled that pay discrimination cases must be filed within six months of hire (effectively outlawing all pay discrimination lawsuits because it typically takes years to find pay disparity). It was one of the Supreme Court's worst rulings since it overturned parts of the Violence Against Women Act (dealing with lawsuits against men who kidnapped women [apparently, most of our Supreme Court is populated by anti-litigious cavemen with kidnap dungeons hidden underneath their houses]).


Obama To Sign Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act Thursday

Kris Alingod - AHN Contributor

Washington, D.C. (AHN) - President Barack Obama is scheduled to sign into law on Thursday the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a bill giving workers more time to make pay discrimination complaints.

The President will sign the measure at 10:00 am ET at the East Room of the White House. He will be joined by First Lady Michelle Obama.

The White House has said in a statement, "This bill will be a big step forward not just for women, but for families. It is not only a measure of fairness, but can be the difference for families struggling to make ends meet during these difficult times."

The President will also briefly attend a reception for Lilly Ledbetter, the Alabama woman for whom the legislation is named.

In November 1998, Ledbetter, who endorsed Obama during the presidential race, had sued her employer of 20 years, the Goodyear tire company, for pay discrimination. The Supreme Court ruled in 2007 by a vote of 5-4 reversing a lower court's decision and saying Goodyear was not required to pay her any back wages because two decades was too long a period for the complaint. Ledbetter had claimed she had been paid 40% less than her male co-workers.

Democrats had tried but failed to pass a bill, the Fair Pay Restoration Act, that would have effectively overturned the Supreme Court ruling. Republicans had argued the bill would make employers vulnerable to lawsuits.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was passed by the House on Tuesday by a 250-177 vote. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) had said in a media availability after the vote, "Congress has taken a bold step to move away from that parsimonious interpretation by the U.S. Supreme Court. In doing so, it has injected fairness, reason and common sense back into our policy."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said last week when the Senate passed the measure, "Republicans and Democrats united around ensuring that hardworking individuals across this country should be paid fairly - and that they will have a fair shot to fight back when they are not. There is no reason anyone should take home a paycheck different from his or her coworker's based solely on that worker's gender, race, age, ethnicity or disability. And in a historically weak economy such as ours, American families can no longer afford it."

Lilly Ledbetter, for those who do not know, is a lady from Alabama who discovered that the company she worked for over the course of decades systematically discriminated against female workers at her Goodyear Tire plant when it came time for raises (and based on the same level of job performance). It should have been a clear cut case of sex discrimination, which is banned under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, but lawsuits against wealthy corporations are one of those things that angers Republicans the most (since they are for the most part sponsored by those corporations). Our business-minded misogynists claimed such lawsuits would hurt business, and so it would, if your business discriminated against people.

Here is Lilly describing her struggles with Goodyear and why it is so important to end pay discrimination.

Congratulations, Lilly and to all of those who now have an extra legal avenue for those to fight discrimination.

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