Friday, January 23, 2009

Senate passes wage discrimination bill

We now know what will be the first bill that President Obama will sign into law. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act passed through the Senate yesterday. The Senate voted 61-36 — with all 16 female senators voting “yea” for the measure. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is a wage discrimination bill that heralds the pro-labor policies of the Democratic-controlled Congress and White House. The House passed the bill earlier this month.

This legislation reverses a terrible 2007 Supreme Court rightwing ruling that narrowly defined the time period during which a worker can file a claim of wage discrimination, even if the worker is unaware for months or years that he or she is getting less than colleagues doing the same job. It has been a priority for women's groups seeking to narrow the wage gap between men and women.

The Ledbetter bill would clarify that every paycheck resulting from discrimination would constitute a new violation, extending the 180-day statute of limitations for filing a claim. The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision denying Ledbetter's complaint, ruled that a worker must file a claim within 180 days of the initial decision to pay a worker less, even if the worker did not discover the pay disparity until years later.

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