Fair Pay On The Way
The Senate today passed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which would allow women an increased statute of limitations for fighting unequal pay in the courts. The current law was that a woman like Ledbetter would have 180 days from the infraction (which, like most pay discrimination, is carried out in secret) to file a claim.
Ledbetter roamed the Capitol's halls on Thursday, explaining to lawmakers and reporters that she was unaware of the pay disparity during most of the 19 years she worked at Goodyear.
"Pay levels were a big secret," she said, "but an anonymous person left a note in my mailbox at work one day, comparing my pay to that of three male managers — and that's when I knew I'd been the victim of pay discrimination."
She calmly recalled how "I started at a lower salary, and they gave me lower raises, over and over again." She sought help from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission just before she retired in 1998, and the case wound through the courts.
After the Supreme Court ruled against her, three months later the House voted to override the decision, but a Senate filibuster stopped the effort.
The roll call is here. All Democrats voted yes, and five Republicans (Specter, Snowe, Murkowski, Hutchinson and Collins) joined them. Because of some amendments it needs to go back to the House for a reconciliation vote, but once that happens, Ledbetter should be the first major piece of legislation signed by President Obama into law.