ACLU Welcomes Pay Equity Legislation in the House of Representatives

June 22, 2007 12:00 am

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Washington, DC – The American Civil Liberties Union applauded today’s introduction in the House of Representatives of the “Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007,” legislation aimed at clarifying the law regarding wage discrimination. On May 29, the Supreme Court ruled in Ledbetter v. Goodyear that workers cannot sue for wage discrimination that occurred years earlier. According to the 5-4 decision, the majority held that the plaintiff had no claim because she had not filed a complaint within 180 days of the initial discrimination.

“We were deeply disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision to sharply limit workers’ opportunities to address wage discrimination,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “How many of us know the salaries of our coworkers? It is far more likely that workers would not know they are being paid less than their colleagues for many months, if not years, after such discrimination has begun. Employers must not be let off the hook for years of discrimination simply because their employees were unaware of it.”

The new legislation, which addresses wage disparity based on race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, or national origin, clarifies that such discrimination is not a one-time occurrence that starts and ends with the first paycheck, but that each paycheck represents a new violation. This new language lengthens the time workers have to bring their challenge before the courts.

Said Fredrickson, “This new legislation is based on the realities of the modern workplace, and we urge Congress to support it. American workers should know that they are protected from wage discrimination and are able to challenge such discrimination no matter how long it takes them to discover it.”

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