Posted by: Ophelia | January 12, 2009

House passes two measures on job bias

The House passed two related bills on Friday. One, approved 247 to 171, would give workers more time to file lawsuits claiming job discrimination.

The bill would overturn a 2007 decision by the Supreme Court that enforced a strict 180-day deadline, thwarting a lawsuit by Lilly M. Ledbetter, a longtime supervisor at the Goodyear tire plant in Gadsden, Ala. Three Republicans voted for the bill.

In the Ledbetter case, a jury found that Goodyear had paid her less than men, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But the Supreme Court, in a 5-to-4 decision, threw out her complaint. It said she should have filed her claim within 180 days of “the alleged unlawful employment practice,” the initial decision to pay her less than men performing similar work.

“The Ledbetter decision is unacceptable and must not stand,” said Representative George Miller, Democrat of California and chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor. Under the decision, Mr. Miller said, employers can get away with years of pay discrimination “if they hide it for the first 180 days.”

The bill would relax the statute of limitations, making clear that each new paycheck violates the law if it results “in whole or in part” from a discriminatory pay decision made in the past.

Representative Howard P. McKeon of California, the senior Republican on the committee, said: “This bill would allow an employee to bring a claim against an employer decades after the alleged initial act of discrimination occurred. Trial lawyers, you can be sure, are salivating at this very prospect (NY Times)

Excited? I know I am.

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