CHN: Pay Equity Bill is First President Obama Signs
Flanked by Lilly Ledbetter and leaders of Congress, President Obama stated, “It is fitting that the very first bill that I sign, is upholding one of this nation’s founding principles that we are all created equal and each deserve a chance to pursue our own version of happiness.” Final passage of the bill, The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (S. 181), occurred in the House by a vote of 250-177 on January 27 and was signed into law on January 29.
The bill overturns the 2007 Supreme Court decision on the statute of limitations for filing a sex discrimination case based on unequal pay for the same work. The Court’s decision ran counter to the long-held interpretation by lower courts and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that each paycheck restarts the 180-day clock for filing a complaint. An attempt to overthrow the 5-4 Court decision in the last Congress was thwarted by the Bush Administration and Senate Republicans. Ledbetter, age 70, worked for Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company and only learned toward the end of her 19-year tenure with the company that men doing the same work were receiving more in compensation. For more details see Human Needs Report for January 16 at: http://www.chn.org/humanneeds/090116c.html.
When the House initially passed its version of the same bill (H.R. 11) on January 9, it also passed The Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 12) which would lift the cap on damages that can be awarded in sex discrimination cases in the workplace, putting them on par with cases based on race or national origin. The House combined the bills and sent them to the Senate. The Senate chose to de-link the bills, considering only S. 181, its version of H.R. 11, passing it 61-36 on January 22.
Lilly Ledbetter, the woman who brought the suit, will not recover any lost wages but her advocacy paves the way for other women receiving unequal pay in the workplace.