Monday, January 26, 2009

Holla: Lilly Ledbetter

Today, the Senate passed (by an astonishing 61-36 margin) the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a landmark case in labor law. The holding is a little difficult to capture in a single sentence, but I'll try: Former employees seeking back pay as a result of a successful pay discrimination suit (race, gender, age, etc.) are now entitled to back pay starting up to two years prior to the alleged discriminatory act. Further, as the Library of Congress summary points out:
Amends the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 to declare that an unlawful practice occurs when a discriminatory compensation decision or other practice is adopted, when a person becomes subject to the decision or other practice, or when a person is affected by the decision or practice, including each time wages, benefits, or other compensation is paid.
This is really fundamental. No, really. Every time an employee gets a paycheck (or tips or what-have-you), it's a throw-back to Ledbetter. It's a legal check mark against a discriminating employer. Rather than look at the entire scope of an worker's employ, the courts must now look at each paycheck as a separate discriminatory act. This, rather than damages assigned as a blanket fix-it, seems like a more accurate dispensation of justice and a protective measure for those who do not get the pay they are owed.

Frankly, I'm stoked. Lilly Ledbetter campaigned and lobbied hard for two years to see this done. She was a plant manager at a Goodyear tire factory who realized way too late that she'd been getting crummy pay on account of her gender. Short version: legal loopholes stood between her and her back pay, so she took her fight to Congress. Props, LL.


Tara said...

I'd heard about this but now I understand it much better! Thank you!

herbstsonne said...