One of the worst rulings the Roberts Court has handed down was in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. The five-member conservative majority ruled that the plaintiff lost her right to file a discrimination complaint related to unequal pay because she didn’t file the lawsuit within 180 days of the first discriminatory action by her employer.
Never mind that Lilly Ledbetter didn’t know for many years that she was being short-changed by her employer, which was paying male colleagues substantially more for doing the same job.
The U.S. House passed a bill seeking to remedy this egregious ruling last July. The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act
would put into law a clarification – wage disparity based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, and disability is not a one-time occurrence. Every discriminatory paycheck represents an ongoing violation. Employees would still have 180 days to challenge the discrimination, but from the last check, not the first.
You would think everyone would recognize the value of this bill. Does it make sense for the courts to grant legal immunity to employers that manage to keep their discriminatory behavior a secret for many months? Or does it make sense to allow employees to file a lawsuit within 180 days of the time they have learned about the violations?
The U.S. Senate took up this bill today, and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama took time off from the presidential campaign to go back to Washington and vote for it.
But John McCain skipped the vote. Though 56 Senators voted in favor, Republicans were able to block it with a filibuster. McCain confirmed today that he would have opposed this bill if he’d been in the Senate chamber:
“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,” the expected GOP presidential nominee told reporters. “This is government playing a much, much greater role in the business of a private enterprise system.”
Right, he’s “all in favor” of equal pay–he just doesn’t want women who are denied equal pay to be able to seek legal remedy for that discrimination.
Clearly wage discrimination doesn’t bother McCain nearly as much as the idea that we might have more women filing lawsuits against employers who have been cheating them for years.
If you know any women who might lean toward McCain because they think he is a reasonable moderate, let them know about his stand on this issue.