Dems override Roberts Court Ledbetter decision
The legislation overrides a May 2007 Supreme Court ruling that Ledbetter, a Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company employee in Gadsden, Ala., couldn't sue her employer for pay discrimination because she didn't file suit within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory act.
"It set us back 40 years in our fight for equal opportunity in the workplace," said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.
For women such as Sharon Davis of Rhode Island, who filed a pay equity claim against her employer, the new law would allow her to seek back pay dating back to 2006, instead of only the six months before she filed in July 2008.
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 sight of Ledbetter, however, as well as the notion that this could be the year's major civil rights effort [interesting], helped forge a determined Senate majority.
As the day wore on, Ledbetter stood outside the chamber, explaining the bill's importance. "I will never see a cent from my case," she said, "but if this bill passes, I'll have an even richer reward because I'll known that my daughters and granddaughters, and your daughters and granddaughters will get a better deal."
Leading the chorus of Senate supporters was Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md. "Doesn't that just give you chills?" she asked.
Well done. Low hanging fruit, but well done.
NOTE The normally level-headed McClatchy has this Obamagasmic headline:
Senate approves landmark equal pay legislation
No. Undoing one piece of Republican viciousness is not a landmark. Something like, oh, time off work for a year after the birth of a child would be a landmark. Single payer would be a landmark. Less compliance, more demands, please.