SENATE VOTE BLOCKS ACTION ON THE CONTROVERSIAL LEDBETTER BILL

by Patricia Schaeffer, Vice President-Regulatory Affairs

On April 23, 2008, the Senate voted 56-42 to block debate on the Fair Pay Restoration Act, a bill that would reverse the controversial Supreme Court ruling in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber. Four additional votes were needed to get the bill to the Senate floor for debate and action. The bill is now believed dead for the year unless supporters move to attach the language to “must-pass” legislation.

The White House had issued a Statement of Administration Policy threatening to veto the bill if passed, and many employer associations lobbied hard against it.

The bill was intended to reverse the controversial Supreme Court ruling handed out last year in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber in which the Supreme Court rejected the “paycheck rule” accepted by many courts. The Supreme Court ruled that the time limits for filing a discrimination charge with the EEOC start to run when the employer makes a discriminatory decision about the employee’s compensation, not each time the employee receives a paycheck affected by discrimination.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote a strong dissent of the majority’s ruling in the Ledbetter case, and she took the rare move of reading it aloud from the bench. Justice Ginsburg called for Congress to correct what she saw as the court’s mistake.

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