Ledbetter Fair Pay Act Advances in Senate

January 15, 2009 12:00 am

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ACLU Applauds Progress of Pay Discrimination Bill and Urges Passage Without Amendments

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WASHINGTON – Today, the Senate invoked cloture on a bill that clarifies the legal time limits for employees to challenge wage discrimination. Senators advanced the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, S. 181, by a vote of 72-23.

As soon as next week, the Senate is expected to consider this wage-discrimination legislation for final passage. Last week, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the same bill by a vote of 247-171.

“Today’s vote is a victory for all victims of wage discrimination,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act corrects a grave injustice perpetrated by Ledbetter v. Goodyear, a Supreme Court decision in which the Court ruled that employees only have 180 days from the time they were first discriminated against to file a claim – even if the employees didn’t know they were being discriminated against. Fortunately, members of Congress are working to fix this outrage.” The legislation restores the ability of employees to have their day in court to challenge unlawful pay disparities – a right that was virtually eliminated by Supreme Court’s decision.

ACLU Legislative Counsel Deborah J. Vagins added, “This is a modest, but important, bill for working families. As long as discrimination continues in your paycheck, you should be able to do something about it. Next week, the Senate should continue its fight to pass a clean bill and should not water it down with weakening amendments. In these tough economic times, discrimination should not be a revenue stream in which unscrupulous employers profit from paying women, minorities, the elderly and people with disabilities less just because they can keep it secret for a few months.”

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