Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

There were quite a few offensive Supreme Court rulings this year, but one of the more surprising decisions was in Ledbetter v. Goodyear, in which the court ruled 5 to 4 (natch) that workers who face wage discrimination only have 180 days to challenge the initial discrimination in court. (Slate’s Richard Thompson Ford explained the case quite well a couple of months ago.)

Goodyear Tire intentionally shortchanged Lilly Ledbetter, a female employee, for two decades. The court majority (Justices Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas, and Kennedy) said if Ledbetter wanted to challenge the discrimination, she needed to sue within 180 days of her first unfair paycheck — even though she continued to receive unfair paychecks for 20 years.

Today, the House took up legislation — the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act — that would put into law a clarification — wage disparity based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, and disability is not a one-time occurrence. Every discriminatory paycheck represents an ongoing violation. Employees would still have 180 days to challenge the discrimination, but from the last check, not the first.

The good news is the House passed the measure. The bad news is Bush plans to veto.


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