04.23.08

Leahy Urges Senate To Take Up And Pass Fair Pay Legislation

Bill Would Reverse 2007 Supreme Court Decision

WASHINGTON (Wednesday, April 23, 2008) – Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) today urged the Senate to take up and support bipartisan civil rights legislation that passed the House of Representatives to restore congressional intent regarding discrimination on the basis of sex, race or national origin.  The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act responds to a 2007 Supreme Court ruling in which a slim majority of Justices held that Lilly Ledbetter, a supervisor at Goodyear Tire, could not seek to recoup lost wages because she did not file her discrimination claim within 180 days of the company’s pay decisions.
 
Just weeks before her retirement, Ledbetter discovered an anonymous note which led her to discover that her employer had been paying her significantly less than male coworkers with the same position, title and seniority.  Because Ledbetter was unaware of the inequitable pay for years, she did not file a claim for protection under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act until she became of aware of the disparity.  An employee of Goodyear for more than 20 years, a jury found that Ledbetter was owed an estimated $225,000 in back pay.  The Supreme Court ruling, however, overturns the jury verdict and eliminates any chance she has of recovering the lost wages.
 
“This Supreme Court decision contradicts both the spirit and clear intent of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which was created to protect workers from discriminatory pay,” said Leahy.  “The Court’s 5-4 decision undercuts enforcement against discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, and national origin.”
 
Leahy has been a longtime champion of efforts to promote the advancement of women in the workplace.  For the past 11 years, Leahy has hosted Vermont’s Women’s Economic Opportunity Conference, a day long seminar specially designed for women to learn about business opportunities and professional advancement.  Leahy will host this year’s conference in October.  
 
Republicans in the Senate have objected to proceeding to the bipartisan civil rights legislation.  Their filibuster is expected to continue when the Senate takes a procedural vote Wednesday evening to overcome the objection.  

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