Protest Unfair Pay for Women

We all know that women get paid less than men, and on April 23, the Senate made it even harder for women to fight for their fair share.

The Senate failed to pass the Fair Pay Act and as a result failed to restore civil rights protections gutted by the Roberts Supreme Court in a case called Ledbetter v Goodyear. With the defeat of the bill, it is now extremely difficult for workers to sue for pay discrimination. The outcome also enables employers to benefit from concealing wage disparities.

Even worse, the effects of Ledbetter v Goodyear continue to spread. In the year since the decision, it was cited in 258 cases, including in the powerful federal courts of appeals in 12 of 13 circuits.

The Senate had a chance to right the Supreme Court's wrong, but they failed and thereby hindered the fight for fair pay. We need to undo the damage done by the Ledbetter case -- protest the Senate's failure to pass the Fair Pay Act! A parallel bill passed in the house so only the Senate is halting the progress of women and other groups who experience discrimination to fight for their fair share. A way to address equal pay for equal work and the consequences of the Supreme Court's decision in Ledbetter must be found!
I am outraged at the Senate's failure to pass the Fair Pay Act (S. 1843). Passage of the bill would have been an opportunity to reverse the effects of the Supreme Court's decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber.

Lilly Ledbetter worked for Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. in Gadsden, Alabama for nearly twenty years. For most of this time, she worked as an area manager, a position largely held by men. By 1997, she was the only female manager and was paid $3727 per month. The salaries of her male coworkers, regardless of their time on the job, ranged from $4286-5326 per month.

This was blatant discrimination, but the Supreme Court decided that employees cannot challenge ongoing compensation discrimination if the employer's original discriminatory decision occurred more than 180 days before, even when the employee continues to receive paychecks that have been discriminatorily reduced.

Because pay information is often confidential, it may take a long time for an employee to realize that she is experiencing compensation discrimination. In addition, the law under the Ledbetter decision provides an incentive for employers to conceal, rather than correct, compensation discrimination.

The decision in Ledbetter severely limited workers' ability to seek remedies for violations of their rights when it comes to gender and other forms of discrimination.

Even worse, the effects of Ledbetter are not confined to employment cases. Recently, the Ninth Circuit issued an en banc opinion in a fair housing case that relied heavily on the statute of limitations reasoning employed in Ledbetter. In Garcia v. Brockway, the court severely limited the enforceability of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) -- a law enacted in part to protect disabled people from discrimination in housing. The court held that under the law, a person claiming that a building's design or construction fails to meet FHA standards must file a complaint within two years of the completion of construction, rather than within two years of when the disabled person first experiences the discrimination by not being able to access the building.

The Senate had a chance to right these wrongs by the Supreme Court, and they failed. A parallel bill passed in the house, and so it is just the Senate getting in the way of women and other discriminated-against groups to fight for their fair share.

A way to address equal pay for equal work and the consequences of the Supreme Court's decision in Ledbetter must be found!
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