ACLU Urges Senators to Oppose All Amendments Watering Down Pay Discrimination Bill

January 21, 2009 12:00 am

Media Contact
125 Broad Street
18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
United States

Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act Lifts Virtual Immunization for Employers in Wage Discrimination CasesWASHINGTON – Tonight, as the Senate resumes consideration of a bill that clarifies the legal time limits for employees to fight pay discrimination, the America Civil Liberties Union calls on senators to vote for a clean bill without any amendments watering down worker protections.

S. 181, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, would restore rights taken away by a 2007 Supreme Court case, Ledbetter v. Goodyear, which in most circumstances denies workers remedies for ongoing wage discrimination. Unfortunately, several weakening amendments have been offered tonight by opponents of the legislation.

One such amendment is a measure sponsored by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX), which would bar employees from court unless they could prove that they had no reason to suspect that their employer was discriminating against them.

Rather than restoring the clear, workable and fair rule that existed before the Ledbetter decision, the Hutchison amendment creates a radical and confusing new standard that:

· Forces workers to rush to file claims based on mere rumor for fear their claims will be ruled untimely;

· Forces workers to spend time and money trying to meet a complicated standard; and

· Deprives employers and employees of a clear, bright-line rule for determining the timeliness of claims.

Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) has also offered two amendments that would limit relief for employees and boost certain defenses for employers facing pay disparity challenges. It is expected additional amendments will be offered tomorrow.

“The basic injustice of the Ledbetter decision is that it gives employers a free pass to continue discrimination,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “Many of the amendments from opponents of this anti-discrimination bill would allow the injustice to continue.”

ACLU Legislative Counsel Deborah J. Vagins added, “The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is the only bill that makes sure employers do not benefit from continued discrimination. It should not be controversial for the Senate to support a clean bill. Far from imposing a new rule on employers, legislation reversing the Ledbetter decision would restore the law that prevailed in the majority of federal circuits and was the policy of the EEOC under both Democratic and Republican administrations until the Supreme Court’s ruling.”

For the ACLU’s letter to the Senate, go to:

By completing this form, I agree to receive occasional emails per the terms of the ACLU’s privacy policy.

The Latest in Smart Justice

ACLU's Vision

The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America.

Learn More About Smart Justice

Smart Justice issue image

The ACLU Campaign for Smart Justice is an unprecedented, multiyear effort to reduce the U.S. jail and prison population by 50% and to challenge racism in the criminal legal system.