What: All Issues : Justice for All: Civil and Criminal : Equal Access to Justice : HR 11. (Wage discrimination) On passing a bill that would extend the time in which employees could sue for wage discrimination/On passing the bill
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HR 11. (Wage discrimination) On passing a bill that would extend the time in which employees could sue for wage discrimination/On passing the bill
house Roll Call 9     Jan 09, 2009
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Progressive

This vote was on a bill that would allow employees to file suit for wage discrimination within 180 days of the time they received their last paycheck. It also would stipulate that employees who won a discrimination suit are entitled to up to two years of back pay.

The bill would, in effect, nullify a Supreme Court decision from 2007 setting out a timeframe in which workers who believe they were victims of wage discrimination must file a suit.  The case required that suits be filed within 180 days of when the alleged bias had first occurred.  The decision was brought to light in Congress by a woman named Lily Ledbetter, an Alabama tire company employee who discovered that she had been paid less than men doing the same work, but only after 20 years of employment, making her ineligible for filing suit.

“This is our moment to fight for economic freedom and to eliminate the systemic discrimination faced by women workers. Because what we know is at stake, had the Paycheck Fairness Act been the law of the land when Lilly Ledbetter decided to go to court, she would have had a far better opportunity to receive just compensation for the discrimination that she endured,” said Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.

"For years, Lilly Ledbetter was paid less than her male counterparts just because she was a woman, but she was unable to know that because she could not discuss her pay with any of the other supervisors, the people in the place of employment. That is wrong. They should be allowed to do that," said George Miller, D-Calif.  "Such policies silence workers and allow employers to hide discriminatory pay practices. Employees should feel free to discuss their pay. It is often the only way that they can discover discriminatory pay practice and seek to rectify them."

Republicans complained bitterly that the change would invite a host of new discrimination lawsuits by lawyers eager to collect fees.  Democrats counter that claim, saying the law will only restore what was in place prior to 2007.

"This bill isn’t needed to protect women from wage discrimination. Such protections are already included in the law. No, this bill is about something entirely different.  Rather than addressing the real concerns of working families, issues like job training, health care, or a lack of workplace flexibility, this bill invites more and costlier lawsuits," said Buck McKeon, R-Calif.

By a vote of 247-171, the House passed the bill.  All but three Republicans present voted against the measure.  All but five Democrats present voted for the measure.  The end result is that the House passed a bill that would make it easier for employees to file pay discrimination lawsuits against employers.

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