Congressional Democrats said this week they would try to reverse a Supreme Court decision that limits the time that workers have to sue their employers for pay discrimination.
“All Americans deserve equal pay for equal work, and it is my hope that Congress can remove the technical hurdles that will prevent individuals from receiving what is rightfully theirs,” said Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., a Democratic presidential candidate.
The Supreme Court voted 5-4 on Tuesday to throw out a Goodyear employee’s complaint that she earned thousands of dollars less than her male counterparts.
Under the court’s decision, an employee must sue within a 180-day deadline of a decision involving pay if the employee think it involves their race, sex, religion or national origin.
Lilly Ledbetter, a supervisor at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.’s plant in Gadsden, Ala., sued right before she retired. She ended a 19-year career making $6,500 less than the lowest-paid male supervisor, and claimed earlier decisions by her supervisors kept her from making more.
The court’s five most conservative members said the woman waited too long to complain. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing in dissent for the court’s four liberal members, urged Congress to amend the law.
“As Justice Ginsburg suggests, the ball has now fallen into Congress’ court and we intend to address this ruling,” House Education and Labor Chairman George Miller, D-Calif., said. “The Supreme Court’s narrow decision makes it more difficult for workers to stand up for their basic civil rights at work, and that is unacceptable.”
Miller will be working with his Senate counterpart, Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., on legislation to help reverse the court’s decision and give workers more time to build their cases.
Kennedy said Congress did not intend to set such a short time limit.
“Many victims of pay discrimination who didn’t immediately realize they were being paid less than others will have no remedy, even though the discrimination continues with every paycheck,” Kennedy said. “With women earning only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, the nation needs strong laws against pay discrimination. This is not what Congress intended when we passed the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1991, and we need to restore full protection against wage discrimination.”
On the Net:
Supreme Court: http://www.supremecourtus.gov
House Committee on Education and Labor:
Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions: http://help.senate.gov/
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