Who is Lilly Ledbetter? Lily Ledbetter, a longtime supervisor at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.’s plant in Gadsden, Ala., said sex discrimination was behind a series of decisions that left her pay significantly below that of men who performed similar work.

After 19 years with Goodyear, Ledbetter was making $45,000 a year, $6,500 less than the lowest-paid male supervisor. The company said poor performance evaluations, not discrimination, were behind Ledbetter’s salary. She retired in 1998, shortly after claiming discrimination.

A jury sided with Ledbetter, but an appeals court overturned the verdict because she had waited too long to begin her lawsuit. – Ocala.com

July 31, 2007. In a close vote of 225 to 199, today the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007. It’s not surprising that the bill passed, because it simply re-states the law as it has been interpreted for many years. What is truly shocking is that 199 members of the House voted to roll back our rights and deprive women of this longstanding remedy for pay discrimination…

The Ledbetter Act was drafted to overturn the Supreme Court’s May decision in the case of Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., which dealt a near-fatal blow to underpaid workers’ ability to use the protections of civil rights laws to remedy pay discrimination. – National Organisation of Women

In Lilly’s own words. While workers’ and civil rights groups are lauding the Ledbetter Act, the bill has met opposition from the pro-business lobby. Neal Mellon from the US Chamber of Commerce said that many business owners didn’t want to open themselves up to the liability of employees filing suits “decades later.” My story shows that filing these suits decades after the initial discriminatory paycheck is often unavoidable. Each paycheck I received was an act of discrimination, regardless of the amount of time that passed.

How many workers know what their colleagues make? Do you? I certainly didn’t until years after the fact. Indeed, one-third of private sector employers bar employees from discussing their wages with co-workers.

Unless Congress rights this wrong, employers can legally get away with discrimination so long as they can make it to day 181. – CommonDreams.org

McCain opposes Ledbetter Bill. Republican Sen. John McCain, campaigning through poverty-stricken cities and towns, said Wednesday he opposes a Senate bill that seeks equal pay for women because it would lead to more lawsuits.

Senate Republicans killed the bill Wednesday night on a 56-42 vote that denied the measure the 60 votes needed to advance it to full debate and a vote. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had delayed the vote to give McCain‘s Democratic rivals, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, time to return to Washington to support the measure, which would make it easier for women to sue their employers for pay discrimination…

“I am all in favor of pay equity for women, but this kind of legislation, as is typical of what’s being proposed by my friends on the other side of the aisle, opens us up to lawsuits for all kinds of problems,” [McCain] told reporters. “This is government playing a much, much greater role in the business of a private enterprise system.” – 23 April, 2008, Huffington Post

Peter Fray

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