Fair Pay Act May Make Comeback

Hallelujah! More good news. If this is a sign of what’s to come after January 20th, I am overjoyed.

AP: “The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is a response to a 2007 Supreme Court decision that made it more difficult to sue over past pay discrimination.”

Remember when that happened? Lilly Ledbetter had worked for Goodyear Tires for nearly 20 years, only discovering near the end of her career that though her performance had been acceptable, male employees had been payed more for the same job for her entire career. The Supreme Court, showing deep concern for her brazen attack upon the patriarchy, claimed that she would have had to file suit within 180 days of receiving her first lesser paycheck, back in the 70s.

Naturally, my girl Ruth Ginsberg dissented. Text of the majority opinion and the dissent.

Compensation disparities … are often hidden from sight. It is not unusual, decisions in point illustrate, for management to decline to publish employee pay levels, or for employees to keep private their own salaries.

…[T]he discrimination of which Ledbetter complained is not long past. As she alleged … Goodyear continued to treat Ledbetter differently because of sex each pay period, with mounting harm.

…[W]hen a woman is paid less than a similarly situated man, the employer reduces its costs each time the pay differential is implemented. … Disparate pay … can be remedied at any time solely at the expense of the employer who acts in a discriminatory fashion.

But Goodyear decided to maintain its discriminatory pay for 20 years and then defended that discrimination in court. And won. In front of 9 judges, 8 of whom were men. The single female judge, Ginsberg dissented.

The 5 male judges who made up the majority insisted in their opinion that it was necessary to deny Ledbetter’s claim. Why? To protect employers who choose to discriminate against workers based on sex, race or other factors, and then manage to hide that until the 180 days have passed.

Unassailable logic.

Because if you count each smaller paycheck as an instance of discrimination, instead of the single decision years in the past to start paying women (or Mexicans, or gays, whoever) less, then, well, the proles who got discriminated against are going to start getting ideas! Like that discrimination is wrong, that companies profit off it, and that they should get paid back!

Silly proletariat.

Well, Alito et al may be pissed, because it looks like Congress is getting pretty serious about this Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

Nancy Pelosi: “Equal pay is an issue of fundamental fairness, but as families grapple with difficult economic times, equal pay for equal work is often about daily survival for millions of families.”

The Republican response, from Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-TN: “[The Act is] little more than an earmark for the trial bar.”

Oh no! Companies being held responsible for illegal discrimination! The horror!

It passed the House, but isn’t law yet, so more quotes about uppity women and blacks demanding equal pay are sure to emanate from Republicans in the meantime. But the bill’s chances are looking good.

h/t Chloë

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4 thoughts on “Fair Pay Act May Make Comeback

  1. Pingback: Being Amber Rhea » Blog Archive » links for 2009-01-10

  2. Since Rep. Blackburn voted no on the Fair Pay Act, may I suggest she take a 30 per cent paycut? Her vote was for big business, not working Americans.

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