Senate, House Bills to Target High Court's Pay Discrimination Decision

The U.S. House Education and Labor Committee's chairman on May 30 criticized the U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 decision one day earlier in a major pay discrimination case involving a female manager's claim she was paid less for years than male counterparts by her company. The court ruled in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. that workers have a limited time in which to file a complaint in the face of ongoing discrimination.

"The Supreme Court's ruling makes it more difficult for workers to stand up for their basic civil rights in the workplace," Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the committee's chairman, said in a statement posted on the committee's homepage. "A worker undergoing sex, race, or other discrimination in pay is discriminated against with each and every discriminatory paycheck, not just when the company set the worker's pay. Yet, according to the Supreme Court, if a worker does not file within 180 days of the employer's decision to set her pay unlawfully, she has to live with that discrimination paycheck after paycheck. This ruling will force Congress to clarify the law's intention that the ongoing effects of discriminatory decisions are just as unacceptable as the decisions themselves."

Miller's Senate counterpart -- Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Ted Kennedy, D-Mass. -- said the decision "strikes at the heart of the civil rights law requiring equal pay for equal work." Kennedy and three other Democrats on the committee -- Sens. Tom Harkin of Iowa, Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland -- announced May 30 they will introduce a bill next week to undo the Ledbetter decision. Miller, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., plan to introduce companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

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