Update: On January 15, 2009 the Senate by a vote of 72-23 passed the motion to proceed to a vote on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (S. 181). Thus, the bill could come up for a vote at any time.
January 12, 2009
Last Friday, in one of its first actions of the 111th Congress, the House of Representatives passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act. Although the bills purport to ensure equal pay for men and women, in truth they are a stimulus package for trial lawyers and liberal/feminist special-interest groups.
The Senate is expected to vote on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (H.R.11) as early as Wednesday of this week. This Act would eliminate the current statute of limitations (either 180 or 300 days, depending on the state of employment) on discrimination claims so that a worker can sue in federal court for alleged pay discrimination 20 years earlier. The statute of limitations was included to prevent frivolous lawsuits against which employers are not able to effectively defend themselves. For example, the bill's namesake, Lilly Ledbetter, who worked for Goodyear Tire & Rubber for more than 19 years and retired from the company with benefits, brought suit more than a decade after the alleged discrimination when her allegedly discriminatory supervisor was long dead.
The Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R.12), which is not yet scheduled for a vote but is sure to follow, would remove existing statutory caps and allow for unlimited money damages to be awarded, even without proof of discriminatory intent. It would mandate new federal "guidelines" about the relative worth of different types of jobs, a long-sought feminist goal called "comparable worth," which means imposing wage control by freezing wages of jobs traditionally held by men and inflating wages of jobs traditionally held by women.
At a time when more than 11 million Americans are unemployed, the highest unemployment rate in sixteen years, these bills would expose large and small companies to vast new liabilities extending back decades. What our economy needs now is for businesses to hire more workers in America, but they are not going to do that if it means exposing themselves to expensive and frivolous litigation. The only things these two bills will stimulate are more litigation and a further exodus of jobs out of the United States.
The Senate will be in session this week, so the vote on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act could come as early as Wednesday, January 14th. Call AND write your Senators and tell them you expect them to vote NO on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act!