House Moves to Fix Pay Equity Horror

Congress is halfway toward overhauling Supreme Court's absurd observance of deadline.


Talk about the legislative fast track! The House last night approved a bill to overturn one of the less well-guided Supreme Court decisions of this term. Called the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, it overturns a ruling the justices handed down just two months ago that made it nigh on impossible for targets of pay discrimination to sue employers.

Lilly Ledbetter worked for a Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. plant in Alabama for some two decades. During that time she was promoted and fended off sexual advances from at least one supervisor who threatened her with poor performance evaluations unless she succumbed to his advances.

But she didn't find out until close to taking early retirement that during the last 10 years of her tenure, her male colleagues were given significantly more generous pay raises.

She wrote yesterday for the Christian Science Monitor: "My salary started out comparable to the male supervisors, but over the years, unbeknownst to me, my raises were always smaller. Eventually, I learned I was earning $3,727 a month while the lowest paid of my male colleagues got$4,286--for doing the same job."

She didn't file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission until just before she retired, because she didn't find out about this disparate treatment until well after it started to take place. The justices ruled that since her lawsuit was not launched within 180 days of the first instance of corporate sex discrimination, the suit was time-barred.

Congress took note of this judicial activism (some might say judicial hogwash) and in record time, the U.S. House voted to reverse the Roberts court. How quickly will the Senate act?

Companion legislation in the Senate was introduced last week. Called the Fair Pay Restoration Act (S 1843), the bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Education, Labor, and Pensions.