“Women lawmakers and women’s and civil rights leaders are coming together on Capitol Hill today to urge the United States Senate to pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act this year. Last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. was a terrible step backward for women, and for all who care about protecting workers from discrimination. It’s time for the Senate to join the House of Representatives in passing legislation that will restore the law that for decades has helped victims of wage discrimination fight for justice in the courts.
In the Ledbetter case, a sharply divided Supreme Court broke with years of case law in ruling that employees can only file pay discrimination claims within 180 days of an employer’s initial decision to discriminate, even if the employer keeps discriminating in paycheck after paycheck over many years. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act would correct that ruling and restore the law so that pay claims can be filed within 180 days of each discriminatory paycheck, upholding the law’s intent. It is the only bill now before Congress that would do so. Alternative bills, such as the so-called Title VII “Fairness” Act introduced by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, would do nothing to fix the Court’s mistaken and harmful view that discriminatory paychecks do not constitute “real” discrimination. Instead, the Hutchison bill accepts the Court’s flawed analysis and imposes new burdens on pay discrimination victims. A vote for the Hutchison bill is a vote against meaningful anti-discrimination protections and against holding employers accountable for pay discrimination.
The House of Representatives passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act last year. This spring, the Senate fell just shy of the 60 votes needed for cloture to cut off debate and allow a vote on the merits. We need another vote in the Senate this year. We urge every Senator who opposed cloture to reconsider that position, and we urge President Bush to reconsider any plans to veto this important bill.
We thank every lawmaker for joining us here this morning. It’s time past time that the United States Senate helps restore fair pay protections to our workplaces.”